Russell's Story

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Russell W. Redfern, 91, of Leelanau County, passed away after a lengthy battle with Parkinson's Disease at Orchard Creek Supportive Care on April 12, 2017. Russell was born on June 1, 1925 in Lansing, the son of Vernon B. Redfern and Leola (Dunning) Redfern.
He grew up in Saginaw and showed his adventurous spirit from a young age, using money from his rural paper route to obtain his pilot's license at 14 years old. He graduated from Arthur Hill High School in 1942.
Russell enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II as a combat medic in the 88th division of Blue Devils. While serving he was wounded three times and awarded the Silver Star and a Purple Heart and Oak Leaf Cluster.
After his honorable discharge from the Army Russell and his brother, Dick, set to work building Redfern Marine on Clam Lake, which Russell operated for over 30 years.
On Feb. 12, 1949, in Saginaw, Russell married Jean Ryder, daughter of Franklin W. Ryder and Helen (Nelson) Ryder. Russell and Jean raised their daughter, Kristin, in the Bellaire community, where Russell served in a variety roles including board member of the Bellaire State Bank for 25 years, elected official on the village council, board member of the Bellaire Public School and one of the founders and past president of the Bellaire Lions Club.
After selling Redfern Marine in 1968 Russell enjoyed an active retirement with Jean, running an airplane brokerage in Bellaire, undertaking various real estate development projects around Antrim County and sailing throughout the Great Lakes and the Caribbean.
In 1998 he moved to Leelanau County, where he became an active member of the Maritime Heritage Alliance working on the tall ship Madeline.
Russell was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Dick and Howard Redfern; aunt, Florence Pritchard; and uncle, Frank Pritchard.
Russell is survived by his wife, Jean. Also surviving are his daughter, Kristin (Bill) Arim, of Elk Lake; three grandchildren, Stephen Deckrow, of Boston, Massachusetts, Dustin (Nicole) Deckrow, of Grand Rapids, and Katelyn (Brandon) Cousins, of Ada; six great-grandchildren, Hayden, Reese, Teagan, Addyson, Avery and Wyatt; and several nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will take place on June 16 at 11 a.m. at Church in the Hills, Bellaire. Burial with military honors will be in Lakeview Cemetery, Torch Lake Township.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of Michigan, the Parkinson's Foundation or the charity of your choice.
An online guestbook is available at www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com.
Arrangements are being handled by the Bellaire Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes.
Published on June 11, 2017
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