Russell “Russ” Cleaton

November 14, 1956 – December 27, 2019

Russell “Russ” Joseph Cleaton, 63, passed away on Friday, the 27th of December 2019, surrounded by his loved ones.

Russ, as he was affectionately known, was born on the 14th of November 1956 in Richmond, VA, to the late William Jackson Cleaton Jr. and Ruth O. Cleaton.  He proudly served our country from 1974 to 1979 in the United States Navy.  Years later, Russ opened The Swedish Garage located in Charlotte, NC in 1997, he spent many years maintaining Saabs across the Charlotte area.  He met so many people and considered many of his customers as his closest friends.

Russ was known by many names: to Kathy, his wife, he was known as “Doll Baby”, to his children he was called “Dad”, and his grandchildren would refer to him as “Tu Pop”.  He had a smile that was fun, loving, joyful and contagious.  To know him was to love him.  Russ loved his boats but loved his boating friends more.

Russ is survived by his loving wife, Kathy; his daughter, Jennifer Dockery (Jonathan Dockery); his son, Jamie Cleaton (Shannon Cleaton); his two grandchildren:  Stella Cleaton and David Dockery; his brother, Jack Cleaton (James Hayes); sisters: Janice Cromar (Charlie Cromar), Maya Johnson (David Johnson) and Roxanne Sexauer (David Joseph) and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his stepfather, Roland D. Sexauer.

The Funeral Service will be held at 1:00 PM, Saturday, the 4th of January 2020 in The Historic Morehead St. Chapel of Ellington Funeral Service.  The visitation will immediately follow the service at Ellington.

Notes of encouragement or condolences can be made to the family by leaving a comment below.

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Clint & Laurie Dockery

5 months ago

Love and prayers for all of you. Our deepest condolences.

Kathleen Cleaton

5 months ago

You will be missed every day until I hold you in my arms again

Russell and Liz Stockhausen

5 months ago

Kathy, we are so sorry for your loss. May the Lord bless and comfort you and the family during this time of grief. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the family.

Jim Sanford

5 months ago

Sorry to hear about the passing of my friend. I knew Russ from his go-kart racing days. Such a great guy on and off the track. Prayers for his family! 😢🙏

Cecil and Pat Taylor

5 months ago

Our hearts are sadden that Russ left us and will be missed
He is sleeping in the lord now
We will all be together again one day
Its called Paradise!!

John Fairgrieve

5 months ago

Kathy, I’m so sorry for your loss. Both you and Russ were two of the kindest, most generous and welcoming people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. May God be with you.

John Rowell

5 months ago

We love you Russ and your family . Lake Norman will never be the same. John (JR) and Kathleen Rowell,Valle Crucis, N.C.

Demetrios and Nona Pourlos

5 months ago

Our deepest condolences to Kathy, Jennifer, Jamie, and families. We have been a friend for many years and shared the love of boats, cars, and family. Russ was the kind of guy everyone took to instantly. Always smiling and cheerful. Always fun. Loved by everyone. He and Kathy were a special couple and her good memories will be plentiful. Prayers for healing hearts. Sad to say good bye, but knowing you are set free of your pain is a comfort to ease our pain. RIP dear friend.

Michelle Potter

5 months ago

Sending my condolences to Kathy, family and friends. My heart breaks. Russ was such a nice guy! I have you all in my prayers and thoughts. Fly high- RIP

Mike Yonkovig

5 months ago

I haven’t seen him in years but I still love the guy. Vichnaya Pamyat…..eternal rest.

Penny Simpson

5 months ago

I met Russ and Kathy 21 yrs ago. Delivering parts to them. I must say that I have never met such wonderful people. Russ and Kathy always made me feel like family! I will never forget them helping me with a flat tire one morning on my way to work, and would not take a dime from me. I will always remember him as the generous man that he was, and that big beautiful smile he always gave me. He will forever be in my heart! ❤️ I love you Kathy, Jenny, and Jamie, and I always will. My love, thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. 🙏🏻❤️

Penny Simpson

5 months ago

I met Russ and Kathy 21 yrs ago while delivering parts to them. I have never met such wonderful people. They always made me feel like family. I will never forget them helping me one morning with a flat tire on my way to work, and would not take a dime from me. I will always remember his generosity and that big beautiful smile he always gave me. He will forever be in my heart. ❤️ I love you Kathy, Jenny, and Jamie. My love, thoughts and prayers are with you all during this difficult time. 🙏🏻❤️

Vicki Carlisle Wade

5 months ago

I am so sorry for your great loss. Russ was so enjoyable to be around. A very happy, nice man! It was a pleasure to take my Saab to him when I owned one. The family atmosphere was great and I always knew I could trust him. It was a loss for me when I sold the Saab. My heart and prayers go out to Kathy and the family! God bless you always!

Suzanne and Kevin Johnson

5 months ago

Russ is one of a kind and he will be surely missed; his laugh, his smile, his words of encouragement, his crazy stories, his deep conversation. Our hearts break for you all. Know that we are with you in every way for always and forever and believe that Rusty is, too.

Mark and Anne Bartels

5 months ago

Our deepest sympathy for your family’s loss and our prayers for you all through this part of your life.

Melinda Lambkin & Chet Ensley

5 months ago

Chet and I are so sad to hear of Russ’ passing. Our deepest condolences to Kathy, Jaime, and the entire family.

Stephen Schaefer

5 months ago

Deepest sympathies and prayers for you and your families.

Chris Kemper

5 months ago

Love you guys and will miss Russ tremendously. I am here to help; always!

Cynthia and Patrick Radigan

5 months ago

We are very sorry to hear of Russ’s passing. He was wonderful person and always had the most beautiful smile on his face! And I loved his laugh! You guys treated us like family, too. He will surely be missed by all. Kathy, you and your family are in our prayers. Cynthia and Patrick Radigan


5 months ago

With deepest sympathy and condolences
To the cleaton family, you are in my thoughts and prayers.

James Adams

5 months ago

So Sorry for your loss. I worked with Russ at Volvo/Saab Charlotte. Russ was a great man to work with and a good friend.
Great family man. He will be greatly missed.

Best Regards,
Jamie Adams

Daryle Powers

5 months ago

Kathy, Jamie and the entire family, my deepest sympathies. I’ve spent the past week remembering all of my conversations with Russ over the past 14 years. He will truly be missed, SAAB on Russ!

Donna Travis

5 months ago

Russ was one of those folks who brought energy to whatever he was doing. I spent a lot of time with he and Kathy over the last 25 years while my Saab had it’s visits. We laughed a lot and I will miss him, his energy, his humor and his love and enjoyment of life. My deepest sympathy to Kathy and his family. Donna Travis

Bill Mullis

5 months ago

My Saab and I spent many hours at the Swedish Garage with Russ and Cathy years ago. Am very sorry to hear of his death. Thinking of Cathy and family.
Bill Mullis

David Van Aken

5 months ago

Sorry to hear about the loss of Russ. He was a good one.


Carl McEwen Ellington Sr.

President of Ellington Funeral Services


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