Russel Harold Oyen

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Oyen, Russel Harold
June 25, 1922—February 5, 2013. Russel Oyen was born in the northwest neighborhood of Chicago known as Edison Park. When he was 12 years old his father died, and he was placed in the NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN CHILDRENS' HOME where he met and eventually fell in love with Joyce Thalman who would become his forever wife in 1948. After his enlistment in the Navy the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, he discovered a new talent: shortwave radio operator. Serving for eight years, he rose to Chief Petty Officer taking him wherever there was action throughout the North Atlantic, Pacific, then later during the Korean War. Employment with Illinois Bell Telephone Company gave him the opportunity to work on the White Alice project during the mid 1950's that provided reliable communications across the state of Alaska—from Cape Lisburne to the Aleutian Islands. It was during this time that he learned to fly as a bush pilot, earning his wings later at DuPage Airport outside Wheaton, IL. He was an active member of the Antique Aircraft Association and participated in annual air shows that attracted thousands. He was an avid amateur radio operator spending countless hours in his "Ham Shack", always ready to provide emergency communications assistance. He was a lifelong member of the Lutheran Church going back to the charter membership with his family at Edison Park Lutheran Church, Holy Cross in Wheaton and finally at Victory in Mesa. He and Joyce moved to Wheaton in 1957 where they raised their family and also enjoyed (along with their beloved Maltese dogs) traveling the country, visiting most of the 50 states, eventually moving to Mesa, AZ in 1990. His pride and joy were his children Christine, Paul and Leslee; daughter-in-law, Ann; son-in-law, Bruce; five grandchildren; and seven great grandchildren. He may be gone but he will live on always in our hearts.

Published in The Arizona Republic on Feb. 10, 2013
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