Russell D. Oxender passed away peacefully at home, at the age of 97 in Tucson, Arizona, where he had enjoyed wintering for the past 20 years with Muriel Stevens and her family. Born August 13, 1924 in Kunkle, Ohio to Alva J and Vera (Warner) Oxender, Russell was one of six children.
Russell graduated from Kunkle High School in 1942. He was drafted into the Army upon turning 18 in 1942. He was processed at Camp Perry, Ohio then traveled to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for training as part of the 202nd Engineers Battalion Company B. During World War II he served in Europe from March 1943 to November 1945. Upon returning home, he attended Defiance College where he met Roberta Schnarre through her brother John, also attending Defiance College. They married June 6, 1948 in St. Mary’s Ohio. Russell transferred to The Ohio State University where Roberta attended. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Education in 1951 and joined Roberta in the teaching profession in Wood County, Ohio. He received his Master’s Degree in Education from The Ohio State University in 1961.
He began his career as a Math teacher in Wood County, where he coached baseball, track and basketball, serving as Athletic Director for a time as well as Administrator. He moved back to his Kunkle roots, taking a position in the North Central School District, as Principal at the Kunkle Building in 1963. Russell and Roberta raised their family in Pioneer, Ohio spending most of their careers serving as educators in the North Central School District. After serving as Principal, Russell returned to the classroom to complete his career as the Industrial Arts and Mechanical Drawing instructor. He enjoyed the wood shop and being with students in the classroom as an educator before retiring in 1981.
Russell was a member of the Pioneer Lions Club, served as charter President, and was a Past District Governor of District 13-A. He enjoyed being involved in community service projects and the camaraderie of trading pins with fellow Pin Traders from around the world. He was honored to receive the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, the highest recognition from the Lions Clubs International Foundation given for outstanding community service.
Russell was active in the Boy Scouts of America, serving as troop leader, and Scout Master in Bloomdale, Ohio and Pioneer, Ohio. He attended National Jamborees, and accompanied area scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, including his son, John and nephew, Patrick Oxender. He received the Silver Beaver award in 1972, the highest award given to a non-professional volunteer worker in the Scouting program.
He was a lifetime member of The Ohio Education Association and The National Education Association.
He was active in the Pioneer United Methodist Church where he was a Sunday school teacher, sang in the choir and served on the Administrative Board. He served on Pioneer Village Council for several years.
Russell enjoyed many hobbies and interests, and spent many hours working on jigsaw puzzles, completing his last puzzle on September 4. Russell enjoyed reuniting with the men of the 202nd Combat Engineers, Company B every year for the last 30 years.
Russell is survived by his partner and friend of 20 years, Muriel Stevens, his children, Pam Hersha of Napoleon, Ohio, Penny (Dennis, “Sam”) Miller of Pioneer, Ohio, Joan (David) Provenzano of Lewis Center, Ohio, and daughter-in-law, Patricia Oxender of Pioneer, Ohio. His Tucson family includes Sheila (Bernard) Palazzolo, Shane (Alexandria) Stevens and Shara Mendoza-Lopez. He is also survived by two sisters, Donna Beck, and Erma Bauer, and sisters-in-law Wilma Kuenning of Celina and Polly Oxender of Columbus.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 48 years, Roberta in 1996, his son, John in 2020, his parents, Alva and Vera, brothers Leslie and Leo, sister Betty, sisters-in-law Marilyn Oxender and Pat Oxender, brothers-in-law Richard Beck, Leland Esterline and William Bauer. Brittany Mendoza, who considered him a grandfather, also preceded him in death.
Russell was a loving Grandpa to eleven grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
Visitation for Russell D Oxender will be Thursday September 23 from 4-8 at Thompson’s Funeral Home in Pioneer, Ohio. Services will be Friday September 24 at 11:00 A.M. at the Pioneer Community Center with burial following at Floral Grove Cemetery. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the family is asking that masks be worn at visitation and services.
Memorials can be made to the American Heart Association, Relay for Life, and the Melvin Jones Lions International Memorial, Inc.
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