Passed away on November 30, 2012 in San Jose, California surrounded by his treasured family. The beloved son of Walter Alexander Russell and Elise Hannah Russell, he was born June 1, 1916 in Weed, CA.
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He is preceded in death by his wife of 70 years, Alice Irene Russell and survived by his daughter Elizabeth Fletcher and son-in-law Dean Fletcher; his grandchildren, Melinda and Bret Gedryn and their 3 children, Brittany, Sydney and Jake; Christine Fletcher and her daughter Sage Priolo; Dean R and Kelley Fletcher and their two children Abby and Caden.
He graduated from Chico State College, and served in the Army Air Corps in WWII. For over 60 years he lived in Yuba City and was active in many civic and fraternal groups. Merle was a dedicated teacher and administrator at Britton Elementary School in Sutter and later in the San Juan School district in Auburn. During his time as an educator he took special interest in sports and organized many track meets and ski trips for the students in his schools. He refereed high school football and basketball for years and was one of the founders of the Lions Club All Star Football game. He participated in 4H as he was growing up and led 4H groups as an adult. While attending Marysville High School and Chico State College he was active in the drama group and played in their bands. He and a few friends played for local dances and events. He also played baseball for many years and was on the Army baseball team during his time in the Army, a highlight was playing in a game against Joe DiMaggio.
He was a founder of the Sutter Lions Club and represented his district as District Governor in 1977-78. He was also a member of the Elks, Native Sons, Masons, Shrine and Eastern Star organizations.
Merle was an avid sportsman, active in the Yuba Sutter Ski Club. He loved to fish, dive for abalone, hunt and ski. He brought many "city" folk to his love for the outdoors. Alice and Merle spent much of their retirement time at the Forbestown timber property, learning about responsible forestry and it was the pride of their many accomplishments.
Donations to The Sutter Lions Eye Foundation (P.O. Box 503, Sutter, CA 95982) would please him. He is missed.
Services will be held Friday, December 14 at 10:30 am at Ullrey's Memorial Chapel in Yuba City. Burial at Oroville Memorial Park is private.
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Published in Appeal Democrat from Dec. 10 to Dec. 12, 2012