Mom, aka, Marilyn Claire Russell, was a hoot! Throughout her life, she was known for the smile on her face, and a constant song in her heart. Even though she could not begin to carry a tune, she ignored us all and sang her heart out ... loudly, right up until just before she went to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She was never embarrassed and sang in front of anyone, anywhere, at any time. Mom was always up for doing something fun, whether dancing, traveling, playing cards or a board game, riding Space Mountain at Disneyland, or having a water gun fight outside, or a soft dart gun fight inside. She loved balloons and blowing bubbles from childhood, right into her 90's. She also loved carousel rides from an early age, and we made sure she got to ride them, whenever we found one.
Everyone who met Mom loved her witty, humorous, animated, extremely extroverted personality. She never knew a stranger and tried to make all feel welcome. She had an extremely loving, generous, sacrificial, tender heart, and would give the shirt off her back to someone in need, even when she was that person. She was compassionate and loved her family deeply. She also loved animals ... wild, strays, or pets. She had a green thumb and loved gardening. She was also fiercely independent, strong-willed, tenacious and stubborn when need be.
Mom was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Queens. She later moved to Long Island, where she raised her family. She died on August 16, 2023 at the age of 90, while at the Norwich Nursing Center. Sorrowfully, she was pre-deceased by her son, Kevin Patrick Mills, when he was 7 ½ years old; her loving daughter-in-law, Denise Mills; her sister, Charlene Andreasen; her brother, Robert Allen; her mother, Claire Allen; and her father, McKinley Allen. She is survived by her loving husband, Tom Russell, whom she has known for over 49 years, always lovingly referring to him as "my Thomas." Mom is also survived by her two daughters, Keri Buck (Tim) and Teri Lawton (Maurice); her son, Michael Mills; her two step-daughters, Deb LaDuke and Judy Plouffe (Bob); and her step-son, Tom Russell Jr. (Carolyn). Her many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews, all of whom she was very proud of and loved deeply, also survive her.
Due to the influence of a favored teacher, Mom wanted to be a 3rd grade teacher from the time she herself was in 3rd grade. However, she could not afford college after graduating high school. She eventually went into banking and became a bank manager. Her intense desire to be an educator never left her and late in life, she eventually earned both her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, finally retiring when she turned 68. She loved being a 3rd grade teacher, encouraging her students and opening their eyes and minds to the world around them. One of her mottos was, "Yes you can, if you will!" She required the best of her students, never allowing them to just slide by, doing less than what they were capable. Her students loved her, some of whom invited her to their weddings, years later.
Mom was a non-conformist, who helped to make those around her a little less conforming. Although only 5'1" and eventually about 4'10", and very petite most of her life, she always stood up for the little guy from an early age. Mom was never on time for anything and was always in a rush for everything, resulting in many humorous stories. A favorite was during one winter when she was racing once again to get to school on time, she had the right half of her body in the car, and after turning on the engine and putting it in reverse, her left foot, which was not yet in the car, slipped on the ice, causing her to slide out and run over her own legs. Another time, she tried to open her garage door and because she was so petite, rolled up with it. While working at a bank, she got caught on a hook when pulling up the shade of the drive-up window, shocking the person waiting outside. Fortunately, one of her co-workers was able to unhook her. In another incident, while reaching for something in her deep freezer downstairs, she fell in and could not get out, until her husband noticed she had been missing for a while and went looking for her. Mom was always one who could laugh at herself, which came in handy during the last years of her life when she was diagnosed with dementia. She taught all of us to laugh at ourselves and to make humor an essential part of our lives when together, and with our own families. Humor was, and still is, our family's coping mechanism, serving us well during both funny and sad life events.
Mom was not a person whom you could ever forget once you met her. She recently admonished us, her children, to never forget her, to which we responded that no one who had met her could ever forget her! Mom loved each of us dearly and we loved her deeply and will miss her greatly. Knowing that we will one day get to see her again when it is our time to enter our eternal homes in heaven, takes some of the sting out of her departure. It is because of our love for God and what His Son, Jesus, did to save us, that Mom's passing is not only a time of sadness, but also a time of rejoicing!
Coltrain Funeral Home, LLC of Middleburgh is honored to be caring for Marilyn and her family.