Russell Warren Price, a World War II combat veteran and nearly lifelong resident of Sandusky, died peacefully of natural causes at his home in North Canton, St. Luke’s Lutheran Community, Friday, April 11, 2014.
Aged 91, he is survived by his son, Warren Russell Price, and his daughter, Shawna Laine Price, both of Canton; his grandchildren, Brennan Russell Price and Lauren Elizabeth Price, both of Alliance, Ohio; his grandchild, Jedi Hera Price, of Canton, Ohio; two informally adopted sons, Michael Loyal Hoffman and Jonathan Brady both of Alliance; and two grand-dogs, Oscar and Bucky, both of Canton.
A lifelong animal lover, Russ was preceded in death by his beloved Great Pyrenees dog and national obedience show winner, Beau Kay Noffee; his beagle, Charlie; his prized race horse, Direct Marion; his beloved mother, Addie Mae Price (Zimmerman) and father, George H. Price, both of Mansfield; 12 brothers and sisters; his wife Geraldine May (Bahsen) Price of Port Clinton; and numerous other pets, friends, family, and loved ones.
Born on March 2, 1923, near Mansfield, he was the youngest of 13 children who lived in a small, single-story farmhouse with no indoor plumbing or electricity, on a dirt road. He graduated from the Madison Township High School in 1941, where he played football, acted in theatrical productions, chased girls, and sang. He was a lifetime lover of music and musicians, crooning Sinatra songs at Karaoke at the V.F.W. up to the age of 88, and singing in the St. Luke’s Lutheran Community Choir up to the age of 90.
His military career began at 7:45 a.m. on March 11, 1943 in room 501 of the Farmers Bank Building in Mansfield, where he was enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps after having received a draft notice. Following basic training and communications school in Meridian, Miss., he participated in Tennessee Maneuvers, a massive battle simulation held in rural Tennessee as a preparatory exercise for the Normandy invasion. He then served with the 931st Signal Battalion where he was responsible for leading an eight-man team through enemy jungles in China, Burma, and India in order to maintain essential telephone, telegraph and radio communications equipment to Allied airbases in those countries. The 931st, an American unit under British command, was under constant enemy fire and enemy aircraft attack. It was in this hellish environment that he and his unit spent most of their time perched atop telegraph polls along jungle roads being strafed with enemy aircraft fire and under constant sniper attack. His unit was on a march headed for its final port of debarkation for the planned ground invasion of mainland Japan when the second atomic bomb was dropped therefore obviating the need for the ground invasion. As a result, he returned home shortly thereafter aboard the SS Marine Wolf, a C4 class merchant marine vessel, aboard which he spent over one month.
Capitalizing on the skills he obtained in the Army Air Corps, he settled in Sandusky, where he was employed as a lineman and communications technician by the Ohio Bell Telephone Company on June 11, 1946. He met his first wife, Geraldine at work and they were married in Port Clinton on June 9,1951. After residing on Pipe Street in Sandusky and later on Muggy Road in Catawba Island, Geraldine died of cancer Feb. 18, 1969. He later married Darla Burris (Hardman) of Alliance, with whom he had two children.
Russ continued to work for Ohio Bell Telephone Company throughout his career, retiring on Aug. 31, 1982, after 37 years of service to the company. While residing on Rome-Greenwich Road, in Greenwich, throughout the 1970s, Russ owned and managed a 100-acre farm and small apple orchard. He continued to breed and show Great Pyrenees dogs and racehorses there until he moved back to his adopted hometown of Sandusky, where he resided on W. Shoreway Drive in Bayshore Estates until 2010.
In addition to being a 65 year, 6th degree mason, he was active in the Firelands region of Ohio throughout his life, serving in numerous leadership positions with veterans and community organizations including the Telephone Pioneers of America, the American Legion, V.F.W., where he served as Vice Commander of Post 2529, and later 13th District Regional Commander of the AMVETS of Ohio. He belonged to nearly every social club in Sandusky and was the life of any party, demonstrated even at age 90 when he drank five Rolling Rocks (that’s the official version, anyway) at his birthday party held last year at the V.F.W. post in Canton.
Between the late 1940s and his death on April 11, he owned countless fun and wonderful chrome-laden automobiles, extensively travelled the American west in a series of new Cadillacs, golfed, owned a boat or two, engaged in countless hobbies and interests over the years, collected historic firearms, and gave tirelessly and selflessly to his children, pets, family and loved ones throughout his life. Simply put, he gave everything he ever owned to others with genuine and unconditional love.
Later in life, he travelled with his daughter to Washington D.C. on an Honor Flight where he laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier accompanied by fellow World War II, Senator Bob Dole. Russ was also an active member of St. Luke’s Lutheran Community where he participated in choir, enjoyed bingo, never missed happy hours, and held court in his room where he doled out stuffed animals and candy he had won to his grandchildren. His propensity to flirt with St. Luke’s staff paid off last year staff when staff members elected him the St. Luke’s Lutheran Community Valentine’s King, a title and honor that he held for one year. His crown has been retired.
Having outlived his parents, his first wife, twelve siblings, most of his Madison High School classmates, and almost everyone he every knew, Sergeant Russell Warren Price, all 5 feet and 7 inches of him, father, lover of his fellow man and animals, dedicated beer drinker, telephone repairman, World War II veteran, singer, and farm kid from Mansfield, turned American hero, finally faded away, as old soldiers do, surrounded by his children and loving staff of St. Luke’s Lutheran Community and Crossroads Hospice of North Canton.
In lieu of flowers and in honor of his tireless loyalty and fierce allegiance to the survival of government by and for the people, the Price Family asks that mourners please consider making a contribution to the Trust of the National Mall, at nps.gov/wwii/supportyourpark/donate.htm.
A memorial service and wake will be 4 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at the V.F.W., Lowell C. Hein, Post 2529, 604 W. Perkins Ave. Sandusky.