School 12

Charles Hamer Russell

September 19, 1947 ~ October 15, 2021 (age 74)

Obituary

Charles Hamer Russell, age 74, passed away unexpectedly from natural causes Friday, October 15, 2021, at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

Chuck was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 19, 1947, to Charles Russell Sr. and Genevieve (Vernezze) Russell. He grew up in Kenosha County and graduated from Wilmot High School in 1965. In childhood, he loved listening to baseball games and playing catch with his father. By middle school, he knew he wanted to dedicate his life to teaching.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in English and History Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1970. In 1978, he was one of the first graduates of the Master of Education - Professional Development program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

He met Connie Mehls in June 1970 at the Eleva Broiler Fest. Between Connie's educational travels and Chuck's entry into the U.S. Army, they were only together in the same state and country for six weeks before their wedding on June 19, 1971, at St. John the Apostle Church in Fall Creek. Those six weeks were just the beginning of a fifty-year life together.

During his brief military career, Chuck was stationed at Fort Sill, OK and Fort Carson, CO. He and Connie returned to the Eau Claire area in 1973. Chuck resumed teaching at Fall Creek High School, where he'd become "Mr. Russell" to thousands of students and athletes.

During his 34 years with the Fall Creek School District, Chuck was a respected teacher and coach. He was the "tough, but fair" English teacher. He started the cross country program. He coached middle school track and field and girls' basketball. He was also a high school football official for many years.

A typical weekend during the fall involved officiating Friday night, coaching cross country Saturday morning, and grading papers by the fire while watching the Packer game on Sunday.

In teaching, coaching, and officiating, Chuck lived by a core set of values: preparation, integrity, commitment, and empathy. He was recognized for excellence in teaching. He led his cross country team to state titles. He instilled fundamentals in middle school basketball players who would go on to contribute to a powerhouse girls' high school program. As an official, he was known for his deep knowledge of the rule book and his crew was selected for the state final. Chuck only considered failure to be giving less than 100%.

Many of the student-teacher relationships Chuck developed during his teaching career blossomed into lifelong friendships after he retired. He took great pride and comfort in the connections he maintained with former students: mentoring them through their lives and careers, celebrating their milestones, and recognizing their accomplishments.

In retirement, he redirected his passion and energy into traveling, spending time with family, regular meet-ups for coffee with former colleagues, and fastidious yard maintenance. He was known to his west-side neighborhood as "the house with the lawn."

Chuck continued his commitment to serving the community through his volunteer efforts with the Eau Claire Marathon.

Chuck reveled in the excitement of planning adventures. Often, picking the destination was informed by his love of history and American literature. Whether it was Walden Pond, Steinbeck's country, Poe's house, or Civil War battlegrounds, his knowledge of history enhanced the experience. Trips to other states and countries also offered the opportunity to visit former students.

Chuck will be dearly missed by his best friend and life partner, Connie, his children who will remember the many ways he was there for them throughout their lives, and his grandchildren whose exuberance kept him young. He truly loved his family and expressed it often through both words and acts of support.


Chuck is survived by the love of his life, Connie Russell (Mehls); son, Patrick (Kathrine) of Saint Paul, MN; daughter Kelly (Tim) Morrell of Minneapolis, MN; grandchildren Charlotte Russell, Hugo Russell, Molly Morrell, and Caitlin Morrell; brother James (Mary) Russell of Colo, IA; brother Thomas Russell; and sister Margaret (Larry Steeger) Russell of Kenosha, WI.

He is also survived by many close in-laws, nieces, nephews, and other extended family members in the Mehls and Russell families.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Robert (Turalee), and infant brother Howard.

A celebration of Chuck's life will be held on Friday, October 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Florian Gardens Conference Center, 2340 Lorch Avenue, Eau Claire. Guests are asked to wear a mask. Lenmark-Gomsrud-Linn Funeral & Cremation Services is serving the family. Online condolences may be left at www.lenmarkfh.com.

All expressions of sympathy are welcome. A memorial fund has been created to honor Chuck's commitment to working with young athletes. Memorials can be sent to Royal Credit Union, 2415 Jody Drive, Eau Claire, WI 54703 (Charles Russell Youth Sports Memorial Fund) or online at www.everloved.com/life-of/charles-russell/donate/.

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