Newton R. Russell, a veteran state senator known as an expert on California's complex public pension system and a stickler for upholding legislative rules, died Saturday of lung cancer at his La Cañada Flintridge home, his family said. He was 85.

A conservative Republican, Russell served 32 years in the Legislature, including 10 years in the Assembly and 22 years in the Senate, where he represented the communities of Arcadia, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, San Marino, Temple City, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge and part of Pasadena. He stepped down in 1996 when he was termed out.

Known as a hard worker with a fair and forthright manner, he had admirers on both sides of the aisle, including former Senate Democratic leader David Roberti of Los Angeles, whose long Sacramento career coincided with Russell's.

"People admired him. I don't think he had any enemies," Roberti said Monday of his former colleague, who was known as the "conscience of the Senate."

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