RAY HALSTEAD RUSSELL, of Lavalette, W.Va., passed from this life into his glorious eternal life on Monday, January 18, 2021 at the age of 94. Ray has been under the care of the Sanctuary of the Ohio Valley for nearly a year. He tested positive for Covid-19 a week ago.
The oldest of 10 children, Ray was born September 20, 1926 in Logan County, W.Va., a son of the late John and Ethel King Russell. Ray was a lifelong learner, avid reader, history buff, especially military and WWII. He could remember names, events, and dates and recently recited the presidents in order. Ray was a motorcyclist and loved nature, outdoors, camping, and traveling across our great country. He loved his Lord and Savior and felt that the Lord had given him this time in the nursing facility to pray for people. Ray was a member of Trinity Chapel.
Ray was preceded in death by a daughter and son-in-law, Sara Leigh and Danny Queen; granddaughters Laura Lea Queen and Cora Leigh Russell; and a son-in-law Jack Hammer. Also preceding him in death were sisters Gaynell Adkins, Lorene Stephens, Ladonna May; and brothers Howard, Edsel, and Michael Russell.
Being married to the love of his life for 74 years, Polly Fae Copley, Ray was able to celebrate with her on their anniversary via Facetime as the pandemic had kept them apart since April. He retained his sharp mind and sense of humor until the end. When Polly asked him if he knew what day it was on December 23rd, their anniversary, he quipped, “Yes, it’s October 32nd.”
He is survived by daughters, Millie Hammer of Tampa, Fla., and Spartanburg, S.C., Karen (Stephen) Jones of Spartanburg, S.C.; and sons John (Stephanie) of Wayne, and Mark (Brenda) of Lavalette. He is also survived by a brother, Ernest Glen Russell; and sisters, Tennie Arrowood and Bernice Copley.
Grandchildren include Christopher Adkins, Aaron Russell, Jamison Queen, Jennifer Jones Nicholson, Stephen Jones, Jr., Sarah Jones Disasa, Megan Russell, Daniel Russell, Sara Kate Russell, Erika leak, and Natalie Amatao. He has 17 great-grandchildren; one great-great grandchild; along with a host of nieces and nephews.
A true patriot, Ray loved his country and proudly served in the US navy. His commitment to the US military did not end with honorable discharge from the navy, as he continued serving the US in his vocation.
Ray was a professional truck driver most of his life, beginning at a very young age helping his father haul coal, run 3 sawmills and doing mechanical work and maintenance on the vehicles in East Lynn, W.Va. where he grew up. For many years, Ray delivered sealed and classified loads to the US military bases and installations throughout the country. These loads included all means of weaponry for the military including tomahawk missiles and other undisclosed Munitions.
Later in his career, after the children were grown and gone, Polly joined him on the truck and became his driving partner for the transport of these classified loads. He was commended for driving over 3 million miles without an accident. He knew every road, highway, and interstate across the nation and was more qualified to get to a destination than any GPS.
Making many friends across the years and throughout the US through work, church, motorcycling and more recently his group of men at Hardee’s morning coffee and conversation, Ray enjoyed hearing and telling stories.
We would like to thank the Sanctuary of the Ohio valley for their care of our father. We also thank Hospice for being there when we could not.
Johnson Tiller Funeral Home, Wayne, W.Va., is in charge of arrangements. A celebration of his life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hospice, your church, or the charity of your choice.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ray Halstead Russell, please visit our floral store.