Walter Ray Russell

November 14, 1927 – June 25, 2022


Walter Ray Russell was 94 when he passed away on June 25, 2022 at the Washington Veterans Home in Port Orchard, Washington. Walt was born on Nov. 14, 1927 in Jonesboro, Illinois. His parents were Ray Russell and Verda (Keller) Russell. Walter had four sisters; Mary, Cornelia Joy, Virginia Rose, and Afton.

Walter served in the Army near the end of World War II and was stationed in the Philippines. Upon his return from military service, Walter met Ruth Forby Ayers and her three sons, William, Donald and Steve. Walt and Ruth married, and in 1949 their son Dannie Ray was born. In 1955 Walter and his family moved to Kankakee, Illinois and in 1956 their son David was born. Walter was employed as a truck driver for John Panozzo Produce and Florist from 1955 to 1976. He also worked part time at Gould Battery in Kankakee. Walter hauled grain, plowed fields, and did farm work as well. He enjoyed camping, country music, horseshoes and pinochle.

In the late '70s Walt and Ruth returned to Southern Illinois, eventually settling down again in Jonesboro. They gardened, watched grandkids grow, traveled and worshipped. Later in his life he worked for the park services doing landscape maintenance.

Ruth, his wife of more than 50 years, passed away in 2000. Walter married Helen Bishop and became stepfather to her daughter Diane. Walt and Helen were regulars at Fox’s Flea Market near McClure, Illinois. After Helen’s passing in 2011, Walter moved to Port Ludlow in Washington state. While in Washington he became an active member of the Peace Lutheran Fellowship and a regular for dominos and cards at the Tri-Area Community Center. In 2016 he was selected as Senior Royalty for the Rhododendron Festival and was honored in the annual parade in Port Townsend. Walter became a resident at the Washington Veterans Home in 2017 where he remained until his passing. Walter was preceded in death by his parents and sisters; his wives Ruth and Helen; sons Dannie and Donald; and his granddaughters Roxanne and Josette.

Walter will return to Dutch Ridge Cemetery in Alto Pass, Illinois where he will be laid to rest beside his wife, Ruth. A graveside remembrance for Walter was held Friday, April 28, 2023. Rendleman and Hileman Funeral Home in Jonesboro is assisting the family with local arrangements.

Walter had a great work ethic and a keen sense of humor, always kindly telling diner wait staff, when presented with the check, "We didn’t order that." He is survived by his loving family members, and the many friends he made along the way. Rest in peace, Walter Ray Russell.

To visit Walter’s memorial page and leave online condolences for his family, please visit the Rendleman and Hileman Funeral Home website at