Russell Duane McCracken Jr., better known as Russ, died on Veteran's Day, November 11, 2019.
Russ' life was filled with joyous times, great family, good friends and always a spark of dry humor. The memory of Russ will live on in his loving daughter, Devon Foster, Son-in-Law, Greg Foster and Grandson, Brennan Foster. Son, Tyler McCracken, will carry on the deep voice of the McCracken males and heartily raise a glass, in honor of his Father. Russ had the good fortune to have two faithful brothers, Ron [Carol] McCracken and Kevin [April] Shaw, who often sought the advice of their older brother...Never. Russ' parents, Dora Jane Norton McCracken Shaw and Russell Duane McCracken Sr, have long been departed. Sisters-in-Law, Cindy Ballard and Patti McGlashen, will no longer be asking Russ to help move them. Brother-In-Law Charles [Violet] Ballard still marvel that Russ got his wife, Jane, to use a cell phone...although sparingly. Numerous nieces and nephews, among the McGlashens and Ballards, will remember the early Christmas morning breakfasts and doublessly recall the hilarious gift reveals, during the playing of "Sneaky Santa." First cousins, Mrs Murilla Pope and Mrs. Nancy [Clair] Brown, will remember family gatherings. Russ loved his many deceased relatives, as Russ took up the hobby of genealogy, later in life. Trips to cemeteries were a highlight of several vacations. Surviving Aunt Sally McCracken Houck and Uncle John McCracken, enlightened Russ' life and provided interesting stories of Russ' Father, who died too young. Russ was also heavily influenced, in life, by his now deceased Grandfather, Floyd Norton and his deceased Uncle, Jerry Norton. Deceased Aunts, Helen Littsenberger and Margaret LeFever, gave Russ precious stories of the early lives of Russ' Mother and Father. Deceased Uncles George Jr., Ken and Don, were McCrackens all. Deceased Aunt Doris McCracken Ashley made sure that Russ and his brother, Ron, were not forgotten. If any have been missed, Russ promised to provide an explanation.
Russ was born in Detroit, MI. A fact that Jane learned, when they went to apply for their wedding license, 44 years ago. When Russ replied to the Clerk's question, Jane excitedly said, "Hey, I was born in Detroit, too" The Clerk looked , at the soon to be married couple, and said " Don't you two think you should get to know each other better?"
Russ reveled in the humorous aspects, of an ordinary life. Hence, his full participation in the family Christmas letter. It was his suggestion that Jane just write a single letter, at Christmas, to friends and family. This year's letter will still go out, however with a tinge of sorrow and grief, along with Russ' suggestions for this year's letter.
At work, for State Farm Insurance, Russ was always seen as a conundrum. His sober continence quelled some. However, that soon dissipated , once they got to know Russ. His many work friends gathered for Russ' last birthday, on this earth. They feted him with cards and happy memories: Just the type of birthday Russ loved. Some of "the girls" put bags over their heads, in memory of the "calling of the race," to leave the State Farm building, that occurred at the end of each work day. This way, wearing the bags, over their heads, no one could identify them, as they dashed from the building. These same work friends showered Russ with cards, e-mails, and food, throughout his 15 month illness. Friends, Marge Davis, provided dog walking and moral support. Andrew Freemire gave of his cooking skills.
To his family, Russ was the loyal, if not always understood, "King of the Roost." Nothing happened without Russ' full approval. That is, until Russ' only Grandchild came along. Brennan was the future of the family and Russ allowed any manner of spoiling. Russ forgave daughter, Devon, for burrowing the front end of her car in a field of mud and rocks. Russ enjoyed his many trips , with Tyler, to get wet burritos, and the hours they spent together, in the basement Man Cave, watching sports.
Russ always wanted a dog. Russ began his campaign for a dog, when he was in his sixties. Russ frequently said, "I'm a sixty year old man, who never had a dog." This kept up, for quite awhile, except each year, Russ made himself a year older. Finally, when Russ was sixty-six, Russ got his dog, Sam...a faithful friend , until the end...except for the time Russ stepped on Sam.
Cancer afforded us a long goodbye. We laughed over our family vacations, our road trips to Maine, Washington DC and the vacation spot, lovingly referred to as "The Hole." On a Hawaiian cruise, Russ prayed, "... for just one rough night," so that Jane could experience what is was like to be on a ship, in the middle of the ocean, in rough seas, like when Russ was in the Navy. Russ went many times to Disney World and Universal Studios, just to please the family. You see, Russ had an aversion to standing in line: A trait he formed, while serving in the Navy, shelling the shore of North Vietnam. Russ was proud of having served in the Navy. However, Russ believed that his life had been cut short, by his exposure to Agent Orange, from drinking the tainted waters of the Tonkin Gulf.
If you wish to honor Russ' memory, remember to be kind, honest and have the integrity to follow through on your beliefs. Russ spoke, before his death, that he fervently wanted to be able to vote Democratic, in the next national election. Besides voting Democratic, Russ would have approved of any donations made to any Veteran's Association, but particularly, to the Fort Custer National Cemetery, Honor Guard.
Russ requested that there be no service, that he be cremated, and that he be given military honors, at Fort Custer National Cemetery, at a later date, when weather was better.
"There's no time for us.
There's no place for us.
What is this thing that builds our dreams
Yet slips away from us...
There's no chance for us.
It's all decided for us.
This world has only one
Sweet moment set aside for us...
Who wants to live forever?..
Today is our forever."
Lyrics by Queen
Assistance with memorials is available at the Kempf Family Funeral and Cremation Services. Leave a personal message and sign the online guestbook at www.kempffuneralhome.com
To send flowers to Russell's family, please visit our floral section.