Friends, co-workers and colleagues of filled the pews of on Monday.
While Russell passed away on June 30 at the age of 54, the service was a chance for grateful residents to honor the man who wished to document everything Glen Cove.
"We lost a member of the community who I consider family," said Mayor Ralph Suozzi. "We all are Dan Russell's family."
Suozzi said that a memorial plaque will be placed at Morgan's Park, and he hoped to have Russell's ashes scattered on the scene.
Dr. Sharon Harris – who met Russell as an intern in 1990 – said she grew to be very close friends with the man.
"We'd often drive around for lunch, looking at the beatiful estates we have in Glen Cove," she said. "Dan was my favorite history teacher, and there were no illusions; either he liked you or he didn't. He was a consummate, non-conformist. He lived life and left, on his own terms."
Glen Cove resident Zefy Christopoulos recalled Russell's work in the community.
"Dan had a great affinity for Halloween," Christopoulos said. "We did a haunted house and he flew with the concept. He'd often go looking around extensively for the perfect skeleton, or other prop."
Christopoulos noted Russell's command of the English language.
"Whenever I looked for a photo, he always had good stuff. I so treasured a camaraderie we had of the language. He had a dry wit about him, you never knew if he was pulling your leg," she said. "He'd often wear no coat in very cold weather, and often walked home or took cabs, so I'd often take him home, and he'd always talk about his mother's flowers in front of his house on Chestnut. I'll always remember Dan in that way."
Russell's neighbor Tatiana Warner said – upon meeting him – she was surprised by his extensive knowledege on all subjects.
"When we moved behind Dan, he'd often ask what we did, but I had no idea he knew so much," said Warner. "I told him I was a medical student and he came down with twenty books. We had no idea who he was, just as 'the man from the backyard.' His gift to my children will certainly be the history of Glen Cove."
Two young students said Russell helped them get perfect grades on school projects.
"My children had a school project which Dan helped them on; he really knew his stuff," said the father of Glory and Jesse Mayreis. "He was quite an amazing guy."
"We interviewed him, and without him we wouldn't have got a grade of 100," the Mayreis siblings said in agreement.
Suozzi said that Russell has no idea how many lives he touched: "Dan died a rich man not by material wealth but that he's left a legacy that won't ever change."