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GLEN ELLYN - Russell A. Nelson, age 79, died at home on July 4, 2016 of lung cancer. An avid sailor, photographer, golf ball collector, and inveterate do-it- yourselfer, Russ was an active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Born on the Cady family farm in Marshall Minnesota, Russ was raised in Villa Park, Illinois and attended York High School. He played in the Blue Devils Drum and Bugle Corps while in high school. After graduating from Roosevelt Military Academy in Aledo, Illinois, he served four years in the United States Navy as a journalist. While in the Navy, he appeared in the John Wayne movie On Wings of Eagles as a member of the naval band. He returned to Illinois and settled initially in the Peoria area. He attended Bradley University. His working career included television director, advertising executive (which resulted in appearing as Ronald McDonald for his regional clients), professional photographer, television studio lighting salesman, University of Illinois television studio director, graphic artist, facilities manager and concluded as a project manager for University of Chicago Hospital. While working, in his spare time Russ wrote poetry, played golf poorly, regularly raised and lowered his bowling team's league handicap and enjoyed camping with his family. Over the years he belonged to a Volkswagen Beetle rally club, was a scout leader, story teller, puppeteer, magician, and designer/builder of cardboard boats for the Glen Ellyn regattas. After retirement, he was the captain of the Gawdelpus, a 30' sailboat. (When told Russ bought a sailboat, his son Paul's English mother-in-law, Patricia Norcross, asked, "Who's the captain of the boat*" Russ said, "I am." She threw up her hands and said "Gawd 'elp us!"). He sailed the waters of Lake Michigan for 15 years giving it up only because of his illness. Accompanied by his pug dog, Nochebuena, he greeted one and all as they passed his slip in Kenosha, Wisconsin during the sailing season. Russ leaves behind his wife of 59 years Doris L. (Harms), a daughter Ruth Ann (Brian Pfohl), and three sons, Mark Nelson, Paul Nelson (Susan) and Matthew Nelson. Russ was known as Grumpy, Poppy, and Grampa to his grandchildren: Sloane Nelson, Matthew Barrera, Cole Nelson, Duncan Nelson, Miel Nelson, Quinlan Nelson, and great-grandchildren, Ayden Barrera and Silas Nelson. He is also survived by his brother Robert A. Nelson (Doris M.), brother-in-law Keith Harms (Janet) and 6 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents, Torsten and Ella Esther (Cady) Nelson and an infant sister Lois Louise. Family and friends to gather Saturday, July 30th 11AM for a memorial service at Grace Lutheran Church, 493 Forest Ave., Glen Ellyn, IL, 630-469-1555. Arrangements were made by DuPage Cremations, Ltd., 630-293-5200.
Published in Chicago Suburban Daily Herald on July 24, 2016
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