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Donald A. Russell

September 8, 1929 – December 5, 2023

Pastor Donald A. “Don” Russell (94) died peacefully at home on December 5, 2023, deeply attended by his family and with his beloved Susan by his side.

Born September 8, 1929, a month before the great crash of the Great Depression, to Clara L. (Breidert) and Paul E. Russell in Chicago, his early years and life were shaped by that period in history. Don was simple and deep, a kind, call-me-Don sort of man. He related to all as a humble, common person quietly grounded in the reality of who he was before God. From the depths of being a deeply attentive listener, his quick-witted humor would bubble up in full-hearted laughter. His own rigorous inner honesty gave rise to a humility that put others at ease. Music, his first language, filled house and soul with the sweetness of the world. A rich baritone, he sought to harmonize in life as in song. After graduating in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, he answered a call to ministry receiving a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY. Ordained an Elder in the United Methodist Church, he along with his first wife, Lela, served churches in Hubble, KY, Mayview, IL; Byron Center, Lawton, and Watervliet, MI before going to the Church of the Saviour, Washington, DC. There he served in a retreat ministry to the global church, Wellspring of Germantown, MD, from 1974-1999. While there, he met and married (1993) his second wife, Susan Morley. In 2001, they co-founded and directed Primavera, a Sacred and Sustainable Earth Center of Dunamis Peace Institute, located east of Kalkaska, MI at the head of the Boardman watershed until Earth Day 2021 when the land was sold. In the words of Thomas Berry, the primary call of his last twenty-four years was “to go into the future as one single sacred community or perish together in the desert.”

Don is survived by his wife, Susan Morley, his daughters and their spouses: Rebecca (Tim) Finch and Ruth (Rick) Lenz (Mancelona), and granddaughter, Raechel Lenz (Traverse City) and his wife’s children, spouses and grandchildren: Christa J. Morley (Eric) Walry and Isaiah, Susanna, Marcus (Ottawa, ON), J.R. “Rich” (Stephanie) Morley, Ben and Cohen (Niagara Falls, ON) and son, R.S.”Bob” Morley (Wakefield, Quebec), niece, Bonnie Bing Graham and nephews and spouses: Ron (Stacy) Bing and Larry (Mary) Bing. He is predeceased by his parents, first wife and friend, Lela Russell, infant daughter, Christine, and sister, Lois Bing.A memorial service will be held on February 17, 2024 at 1 pm at Kalkaska United Methodist Church, 2525 Beebe Rd Kalkaska, MI 49646.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to: Dunamis Peace Institute, Central America, P.O. Box 433, Allenspark, CO 89510-0433. Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, 2846 3 Mile Rd N, Traverse City MI 49686.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Kalkaska Funeral Home.

*Russell, Donald A. – DECEASED [(RE) D 1958; FE 1962; HL 1977; FE 1980; RE 1996] Transferred from Kentucky Conf 1960; Byron Center 1960; Byron Center, Market Street 1964; Lawton, Porter 1966; Watervliet 1971; Sabbatical Leave 1975; Wellspring Mission Group, Church of the Savior, Washington DC 1976; Honorable Location 1977; Readmitted, The Church of the Savior, Washington DC 1980; Retired 1996.


Last Updated on December 18, 2023

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