Russell Lewis Embree, 78, of Mt. Sterling died on Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Golden Good Shepherd Home, Golden, Illinois.
He was born on June 10, 1940, in Camp Point, Illinois, a son of Mazie Pearl (Lewis) and John Henry Embree. He married Dorothy Jean King of Mt. Sterling on January 29, 1959. He was a member of the First Christian Church , Camp Point, IL.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years; his children, Mike (Karen) Embree of San Antonio, TX; Don (Sally)
Embree of Waukee, IA; Kathy (Jim) Koenig of Wheaton, IL; and Lisa (Alvaro) Perales of Bettendorf, IA; his sisters Norma (Lionel, deceased) McCallister of Erie, IL; Linda (Marion) Malcomson of Campbellsville, KY; and Marilyn (John, deceased) Reische of Mt. Sterling; 9 grandchildren (Dutch (Embree) Cosmian, Halsey Embree; Scott Embree, Carrie Eby, Betsy Bathke; Elizabeth Koenig, Julia Koenig; Isabella Perales, Samuel Perales); 7 great-grandchildren (Beatrix Cosmian; Colby, Lucy, and Nora Embree; Faith Eby; Austin and Jackson Bathke); and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings Ralph Embree and Betty Bessell; and great-grandaughter Aden Elizabeth Embree.
Russ attended Camp Point schools and graduated from Camp Point Central High School in 1958. While in high school, he met Dorothy at the roller skating rink in Mt. Sterling. The couple was eventually engaged and was married in Quincy, IL, with Betty Embree and Fred Bessell acting as witnesses. They first resided in Buckhorn, IL, and after a year, moved to Mt. Sterling.
Russ was a member of the United States Navy, enlisting in October of 1958. He received basic training in San Diego, CA, and electrical training in Chicago, IL. He was first stationed in 1959 in Albuquerque, NM, where he underwent nuclear weapons training and was then stationed in Norfolk, VA, from 1959 to 1962. He served on the USS Forrestal (CVA-59) supercarrier for two Mediterranean tours. He was a member of the Mt. Sterling American Legion Post 374.
After his military service, Russ worked with his father on the railroad for a short time, and was then employed by Electric Wheel in Quincy, IL, from 1962 to 1966. He learned of work in the Quad Cities area, and he and his brother-in-law, Lionel McCallister, were hired at International Harvester, East Moline plant. Shortly after, both families moved to Erie, IL. Russ was initially a piece worker and was eventually promoted to Plant Foreman, then Plant Supervisor. During Russ’s early years at IH, he took on additional jobs as a farm hand to two area farmers, Don Morphew of Cordova and Bob Mix of Erie. He also worked a second job as a grain inspector on the barges for Clinton Corn. He was employed by International Harvester for 36 years, retiring in 1997, and continued to work on contract for Case IH from 1997 until 2004.
While continuing his contract work with Case IH, Russ and Dorothy moved in 1997 to Dorothy’s family farm in Mt. Sterling, where together and while living in a camper, built a new home after the original farmhouse was lost in a fire. Russ, with Dorothy alongside, built nearly the entire home himself. He continued to actively farm the ground and raise cattle up to his passing.
Russ was a man of many interests and pursuits. For several years, he and Dorothy were members of the Erie Triangles Square Dance Club, where Russ was the Club Caller. They became lifelong friends with many of their fellow dancers. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, berry picking, and mushrooming. He took great pride in keeping his vehicles perfectly shined and running, especially his classic red and white 1955 Chevy Bel Air Convertible.
After he turned 40, Russ became an avid runner, competing in numerous 5K and 10K races, as well as both half and full marathons. He ran the Bix 7 for many years and realized his dream of qualifying for and competing in the Boston Marathon. On his 50th birthday, Russ ran throughout the entire night and achieved his goal of running 50 miles as a way of celebrating that milestone birthday.
Russ especially loved to bake, specializing in black walnut cake with fudge frosting and applesauce raisin cake with powdered sugar frosting. His favorite thing to make was candy. At Christmas time, he and Dorothy would make fudge, divinity, caramels, and turtles. They shared their delicious candy with both family and friends, and their four children also received their favorite cake or candy as a birthday gift each year from their dad.
Country music brought Russ the ultimate joy. He preferred traditional country singers such as George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and so many others. He thoroughly enjoyed sitting in his shop with his antique wood stove fired up, cracking and picking out walnuts, while listening to his beloved music. His kids and grandkids received just as much happiness when spending a day with him in his shop.
After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002, exercise and fitness became Russ’s healthy obsession. With a friend’s encouragement, he began working out at the Mt. Sterling YMCA every weekday morning for two to three hours and sometimes longer. His neurologist truly believed that Russ’s ability to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle was due to his commitment to exercising. When he learned he had pancreatic cancer in 2016, he was able to undergo an extremely invasive and ultimately successful surgery due to his high level of fitness. That same dedication helped him recover from the surgery to once again become active.
Russ’s love of his family and the pride and joy he felt for them was recognized by everyone who knew him. He was the ultimate family man, and his children and grandchildren will feel forever inspired and blessed by the example he set of how to live a life of kindness, grace, and love.
Funeral services are at 12 noon, Wednesday, June 5, Hendricker Funeral Home in Mt. Sterling, with Pastor Don Embree officiating. Visitation is from 9 a.m. until time of services at the funeral home. Burial, with a military service conducted at graveside, is in Pleasant View Cemetery, near Camp Point.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research or Brown County Against Cancer.
Condolences may be left on line at hendrickerfuneralhome.com.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown MD 21741-5014
Brown County Against Cancer
P.O. Box 68, Mount Sterling IL 62353