Russell Charles Kick III was born on July 20, 1969 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he spent his childhood. His mother, Jane (Woody) Kick, was an executive assistant and later a homemaker. His father, Russell Charles Kick II, became chairman of the accounting and finance department at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville; Russ enrolled there, majored in psychology, and graduated in 1991.
A short marriage to Kimberly Gannon ended in divorce. mr. Kick is survived by his sister and his mother.
In his youth, Mr. Kick absorbed information. His sister said in an interview that they grew up surrounded by books — including a dog-eared copy of “An Incomplete Education: 3,684 Things You Should Have Learned but Probably Didn’t” (1987), by William Wilson and Judy Jones — and played competitive rounds of Trivial Pursuit.
After college, he began a doctoral program in public policy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, where he received a full scholarship. But he lost interest and dropped out and instead enrolled at Nashville State Technical Institute, now Nashville State Community College, to study communication arts.
Going to technical school, which he graduated in 1995, was a turning point in his life, his sister said. The program developed his innate interests and taught him to create websites and design books. While still a student, he produced his first book, “Outposts: A Catalog of Rare and Disturbing Alternative Information” (1995), which provided information on topics such as sex, drugs, censorship, and religious and cultural extremism.
“He was a real scholar,” said Michael Ravnitzky, a public records researcher and friend of Mr. Kick, in an email.
Mr Kick, he added, was “interested in every subject under the sun, chasing factual information and fictitious expressions throughout human existence.”