Russel Lee Wiener died peacefully on April 1, 2015 at the age of 94, just two weeks shy of his 95th birthday. Visitation will be on Tuesday, April 7, from 4-6 p.m. at Memorial Park Funeral Home. Services will be held Wednesday, April 8 at Lindenwood Christian Church at 2 p.m. Dr. Wiener was born to Lee Charles and Martha Bailey Wiener in Memphis, TN on April 13, 1920. He attended Rhodes College, was president of ODK, and graduated from there in 1942 with a degree in chemical engineering. He received a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Tennessee in 1945. He was a long-time member of Bellevue Baptist Church and Lindenwood Christian Church. Shortly after earning his D.D.S., in the early 1950s, Dr. Wiener joined the United States Naval Reserve where he became a dental officer. After spending time with the First Marine Air Wing in Japan and Korea, Dr. Wiener returned to Memphis. Dr. Wiener left dentistry to join his brother Don Wiener at Donruss Company. Donruss, founded by Don Wiener, was a candy manufacturing business in Memphis known for its penny gum Super Bubble Gum. Additionally, it was at Donruss Company where Russel Wiener is credited for inventing the strip candy suckers. Donruss later became part of the Southern division of General Mills. In 1956, he married concert violinist Joy Brown. Upon his retirement from the bubble gum business, Dr. Wiener then focused on the family-run farming business, Pacco, Inc located near Marion, Arkansas. It was also during this time that Dr. Wiener began to take a more aggressive role in helping the local arts, education, and community organizations. Russel Wiener and his wife Joy serve as life-long patrons of the arts even earning the 1992 Governor of Tennessee Patron of the Arts Award. Dr. Wiener was president of Memphis Opera Theater, Memphis Orchestral Society, chairman of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and Joy of Music International based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Moreover, Wiener was an integral part of his community— he was named Ouro of Memphi in the Carnival Association. He was a member of the Memphis Country Club and Memphis Hunt and Polo Club. He served as president of the English Speaking Union, the Rotary Club, and was chairman of the Investment Committee of the Assisi Foundation. He served on the advisory board of the University of Memphis, as a trustee for Christian Brothers University and Rhodes College. Dr. Wiener was chairman of the board of the Hutchison School where his family is responsible for the establishment of the Wiener Theater. He loved his Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers and was a member of the Order for 76 years. He became their international “Man of the Year” in 1991, and is well-known for his involvement with the Phi Chapter here in Memphis. Nationally, Wiener was head of the Kappa Sigma Endowment Fund, and was responsible for overseeing Kappa Sigma scholarships locally. Russel Wiener took great pleasure in seeking opportunities to help those in need. His contributions to charitable organizations have impacted the next generation. His giving to Smile Train, a charity that provides free cleft palate surgery for children, has helped to cover cleft palate surgeries for children around the world. He has quietly paid for the private education of promising young students in the greater Memphis area. Often, Dr. Wiener financially helped certain individuals jumpstart their career. His generosity never expected anything in return. Though his accomplishments range far and wide his greatest devotion was to his family. Russel Lee Wiener is preceded in death by his parents and his devoted brother, Donald Bailey Wiener. Dr. Wiener leaves behind his wife of 58 years, Joy Brown Wiener; his daughter Donna Wiener of Philadelphia, daughter Martha Wiener Horton and her husband Tom Horton of Memphis; two grandchildren, Tommy Horton and his wife Kylee of Orlando; and Bowen Horton of Memphis. His extended family includes two nephews, Lee Russel Wiener and wife Jean Anne, Bailey Lee Wiener and wife Marilyn of Memphis; as well as many great nieces and nephews, and wonderful caregivers. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Love Worth Finding, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, or the charity of your choice
Published by The Commercial Appeal on Apr. 6, 2015.