Cover photo for Russel Smith's Obituary
Russel Smith Profile Photo

Russel Smith

February 15, 1929 — July 25, 2020

Russel Smith

Russel L. Smith

Age 91 of Coal City and formerly of Essex, Illinois passed away peacefully Saturday, July 25, 2020 at his home.

Born February 15, 1929 in Williamsfield, Illinois, Russel Lee was a son of Glen and Evelyn Iola (Hegwood) Smith. He moved with his family at the age of 13 to Essex, where he went on to graduate from Reddick High School with the Class of 1946. Russ entered into the United States Army, where he served as a paratrooper and heavy weapons infantryman. Though he put in a request for deployment to Korea on two occasions, Russ remained stateside as there was a greater need for his expertise as a bazooka trainer with the National Guard. He was honorably discharged in July of 1953. On October 6, 1951, Russ married Phyllis Moranski in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Reddick. Russ and Phyllis were childhood friends, and together following their nuptials made their home in Essex, where they farmed and raised their family. In addition to farming, Russ established his career working with UniRoyal at the Joliet Arsenal. He began as a fireman and moved through various positions, retiring in 1993 as a Boiler Operator.

Russ was a member of the Essex Lions Club; was an excellent marksman, and enjoyed bee keeping, wine and beer making and constantly tinkering. He will be remembered as an accomplished gardener who has passed his heirloom garlic to many family and friends. He had the best sense of humor, loved to tell stories and never complained, even after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease in 2010.

Survivors include his wife of 68 years, Phyllis; three children: Karen (Larry) Guest of Coal City, Mike (Cathy) Smith of South Wilmington and Lori (Ron) Trentacosti of Carbondale; four grandchildren: Samara (David) Anderson of South Wilmington, Amanda (David) Brown of Coal City, Corinne Smith of Arizona and Coli Smith (Curt) Panfil of Westmont; eight great grandchildren: Olivia, Madison, Mya, Abbey, Jenna, Caleb, Milania and Smith; one brother-in-law, Clarence (Sherry) Moranski and numerous nieces and nephews.

Russ was preceded in death by his parents, and one sister, Hazel (Bill) Bainbridge.

Per Russ’ wishes, cremation rites have been accorded.

A private family graveside service was held in Essex North Cemetery with military honors rendered.

Preferred memorials may be made as gifts in Russ’ memory to a Parkinson’s Disease related charity of the donor’s choosing.

Family and friends are encouraged to sign the guest book, upload photographs or share Russ’ memorial page online through social media by logging onto:

Cremation services and memorial arrangements have been made under the direction and care of Reeves Funeral Homes, Ltd. in Coal City. (815-634-2125)

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Russel Smith, please visit our flower store.


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