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Russell Irvin Obituary – 4/22/2023


Russell Clyde Irvin, 83, of Cokato, MN, died Saturday, April 22, 2023.

Russell was born Feb. 19, 1940, in Cokato to Charles Clyde and Opal (Webber) Irvin. He grew up in the rural Cokato and Silver Lake, MN, area.

Russell attended Dahl School and Cokato High School, where he graduated in 1958.

Russell was baptized and confirmed at Stockholm Lutheran Church.

Russell married his high school sweetheart, Beverly G. Shuneson, June 6, 1959.

Together, they had three children: Sheryll, Brian (Buck), and Bruce. They have created a wonderful and warm home for almost 58 years in Cokato.

Russell had various jobs after high school, from working at Cokato Creamery and Mill, then Richwell Furniture, and finally Lundeen Flooring installing carpet for 37 years. He was also known for helping many farmers who needed help with milking cows if they wanted a vacation or due to illness.

Russ formally retired in 2002, but seemed to stay just as busy with his passion and love for volunteering. Russ was involved with the Cokato Food Shelf and at present was on the board.

He also earned the nickname of “a storm chaser” by his love for organizing and serving community efforts to clean up after natural disasters. He was quick to help sandbag and rebuild, and he loved using his chainsaw.

Other volunteer opportunities brought Russ to work on the Mercy Ship, a traveling medical ship in Alabama; six different relief trips to Mississippi to help after Hurricane Katrina; building houses with Habitat for Humanity; and a personal highlight of taking his grandson, Jordan, on a mission’s trip to Haiti in 2012.

In 2006, Russ was honored to receive the Virginia McKnight Foundation Award in Human Services. The foundation exists to recognize the life-changing difference one person can make through service, and his family couldn’t think of a more deserving recipient.

Russell’s dedication to his faith in God and belief in Jesus Christ was demonstrated by his humble nature in caring for and serving others.

A devoted grandpa or “Gramps” as they knew him, for 25 years Russ and Bev attended sports events and activities from elementary to college for all of their grandchildren. With nine grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, number 19 due in May, Russ will be deeply missed.

In his free time, Russ enjoyed woodworking, making Minnesota-shaped plaques, planters, cremation boxes, and more. He had made 13 cedar chests, in which his children, grandchildren, and Cokato Manor (a for-profit sharing event) were the recipients. He has been a go-to handyman around the house for other family members and friends in Arizona.

In March 2014, Russ and Bev purchased a home in Sun City, AZ. They called it their “winter cabin” and enjoyed their home away from home and community of friends every year. Russ was known as “Russie short-pants” no matter the weather.

Russ has been a member of Elim (now Highland Community Church) for over 60 years.  He has sung in choir, been on the worship team, been a Sunday School and AWANA leader, served on the building and grounds board, participated as an usher, and was involved in men’s ministries. He also served on the Cokato Charitable Trust Board representing our church and food shelf.

Russell is survived by his wife, Beverly, married for 64 years in June; children, Sheryll Friend, (Jeff Hauge), Brian (Buck) (Tammy Bren), Bruce (Marilyn) Irvin; nine grandchildren, Reid Jilek (Nikki), Scott Jilek (Shannen), Ashley Weisner (Jeff), Tiffany Irvin, Jennifer Weiers (Jon), Shantel Threatt (Dee), Tyler Irvin (Renee), Jordan Irvin (Brianna), and Sarah Irvin; 18 great-grandchildren, nephews, and one niece; sister, LaVonne Mortenson; and brother-in-law, Roger Shuneson.

Russell is preceded in death by his parents and in-laws; sister-in-law, Joan Shuneson; and brother-in-law, Gary Mortenson.

A memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Friday, May 5, 2023, with visitation one hour prior to services at Highland Community Church in Cokato. The service will be live-streamed on the church’s website. Casual attire (shorts if desired) is encouraged. Interment will be at Stockholm Cemetery.

Arrangements by Swanson-Peterson Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Cokato, www.swansonpeterson.com 320-286-2534

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