Russell T. Kaufman
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95, of Mentone left us to join his wife, Shirley, and stepson, Bodie, on April 30, 2014. He had recently moved to the Rosegarden residential care home following the death of his beloved wife. Russ lived a long, varied and very interesting life. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1919. In his teens and 20's he was a Golden Gloves boxer and boxed against the national champion. His first real job was as a firefighter. He joined the Army in 1942 and then transferred to the Army Air Corps where he trained to be a bomber pilot. In January, 1945, after flying 30 missions, he was shot down over France and held as a POW. After a bout with pleurisy while in the prison camp, he and some other prisoners escaped but were recaptured and held until April 17, 1945 when they were liberated. Following the war, Russ first worked for the post office in Pasadena. In 1952 he enrolled in Los Angeles State College to earn a B.A in Education. He had to take a test to gain entrance to the college because he had never attended high school. He began his teaching career in Duarte and it was there he met his wife of 54 years, Shirley, and her son, Bodie. They married and moved to Loma Linda where they had room for their horses, dogs, and cats. Russ continued his teaching in Riverside and worked with Special Education students. Eventually, they moved to Mentone. Russ had always been fascinated by wildlife and would often make "friends" with the raccoons, opossums, and other animals around their home. Both Russ and Shirley rode their horses in many parades all around Southern California. Russ was a member of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Posse and Aero squads. He was also an excellent pilot. He was a member of the Civil Air Patrol for 40 years and he taught over 40 other pilots to fly. Russ loved to travel whether by motor home or by plane. His favorite trip was to the Holy Land where he was baptized in The Jordan River. For many years, he and his family would travel throughout the west and spend time, boating, water-skiing, and exploring. Russ was also a musician. He played the accordion, guitar, and harmonica. For many years he performed with the "Redlands Airport Philharmonic". Russ often said he had lived a very full, blessed life. He made the most of the gifts God gave him and he had "no regrets".
Russ is survived by a son, Steven, of Montana, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at the Rocky Point Christian Fellowship Church, 2116 Mentone Blvd., Mentone at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 24. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to Wounded Warriors, 4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300, Jacksonville, Florida 32256.
Published in Redlands Daily Facts on May 18, 2014