In Memory

Bill Russell - Class Of 1956

William F. Russell 
(October 19, 1937 - June 12, 2016) 
William F. RussellWilliam Frederick Russell aka Bill, Will, Uncle Bill, Slick Willie, Dad, Grandad

This will not be a typical obituary as Bill was not a typical person. He began life as the second child of Lewis and Mary (McKinley) Russell of Thorntown, Indiana. His older sister Patty and younger brothers Jimmy and Bobby rounded out the Russell clan. In later years a step sister, Margaret, and step brother, Pete, were added into the mix.

At an early age, Bill worked in his father’s car dealership in Thorntown. Bill commented more than once that when he did something wrong he was sent to clean the windows in the Body Shop. Rumor had it that the Thorntown Chevrolet body shop windows were some of the cleanest to be found!

Bill wasn't known for his skill at writing, and he often said if it wasn’t for basketball, he would have never graduated high school! He ran track only to stay in shape for basketball season. Bill was known for his turn around jump shot and his ability to simply not give up no matter the score. It is somewhat ironic that later in life Bill became an author, writing a book called “Born Not a Salesman” that chronicled his many hard to believe life experiences.

After graduation from Thorntown High School in 1956 he joined the United States Marine Corps where became a Corporal. He served in Okinawa and earned an honorable discharge in 1958. The phrase “Once a Marine, always a Marine” lived within Bill’s heart.

After being discharged from the Marine Corp, Bill sought work in Indianapolis. It wasn't long after that he met his future wife, and love of his life, Marty (Marcia L. Davis). Bill had to overcome the objections of his future Father-in-Law regarding a mixed marriage. Apparently the Father-in-Law, Donald W. Davis of Lebanon, Indiana frowned upon his daughter getting married to someone from Thorntown. Especially a basketball player!

Not to be deterred by a challenge, Bill overcame the Father-in-Law’s objection and married Marcia on April 22, 1962. They were married for 54 years, living in various places around the United States only to return to Lebanon in 2003. During the courtship phase of their relationship, Bill met his second love. Golf. More on this later.

On July 23, 1963, Bill and Marty had their only child, Don. Don went on to marry Vicki Honebrink of Minnesota and they created Bill’s next passions, his granddaughter Cali, and grandson Tyler.

Now back to Golf. To say he was possessed by Golf is an understatement. Trips were lengthened, shortened, canceled or created just to try a new golf course. He played in the rain, the heat, in the snow, and at night. If there was any possible way to get in round of Golf, he did.

Bill’s professional life was very rewarding. He became well known in the automotive aftermarket working for Snap-0n, Marquette Manufacturing, FMC, Fox Valley, Coats Diagnostic, TIF Instruments, and Florida Pneumatic before he set out at the age of 51 with three other individuals to build a new automotive diagnostic company. Bill was well known for his presentation style and for the ability to motivate his audience. He retired from work in 2009.

Family and Friends were important to Bill. He was the crazy uncle, nutty cousin, goofy neighbor, father or grandfather that always had a smile on his face and a joke or story to share. You could confide in Bill, bounce ideas off of him, or use him as a mentor.

Bill enjoyed retired life playing golf, flying remote controlled airplanes, spending time with his grandkids and driving his wife nuts! Bill saw the good in everyone and everything. He was a life long optimist that viewed challenges as something to be conquered, not feared.

Bill’s life came to an end after losing his struggle with Frontotemporal Dementia. Frontotemporal dementia leads to a deterioration in behavior and personality, in addition to alterations in muscle or motor functions. The family requests you remember Bill before the disease took a hold of his life. Bill would want you to focus on the positive and not the negative!

You are invited to celebrate the life and times of Bill Russell Monday evening, June 20, 2016 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Strawmyer & Drury Mortuary, 2400 N. Lebanon St., Lebanon, IN 46052. A funeral service will be conducted Tuesday morning, June 21st, at 10:00 a.m. at Strawmyer & Drury Mortuary. There will be no graveside services. The requested dress for attending either gathering is Golf Course casual. You are welcome to show up in a suit and tie, but beware the tie may get cut off as you enter.

At this point there is generally a plea that instead of flowers to make a donation to some organization. Bill would prefer you do one or more of the following: Take a friend or family member out to play golf. Go to dinner with your wife. Share and create experiences with your kids and grandkids. If there is something you have always wanted to do, do it. Remove the excuses and conquer the challenges. Life is short, live it to its fullest. If you feel moved to send money somewhere, go to or call (800) 272-3900 to support dementia research.

Written by Don Russell, proud son of William Russell.