VILLA GROVE – Russell Ray Black, 78, of Villa Grove passed away surrounded by family and friends in Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana on Saturday (May 16, 2015).
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, May 22, at Joines Funeral Home, Illinois 130 South, Villa Grove, with the Rev. Mike Zylestra officiating. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home with Masonic rites at 7 p.m. by the Villa Grove-Camargo Masonic Lodge No. 885. Burial will be in the Villa Grove Cemetery with military rites by the Walter Jones VFW Post 2876.
Russ served his country in the U.S. Air Force. He retired at the rank of TSGT after 20 years of service. He then joined the Union Pacific Railroad and remained there as a conductor until his retirement in 1998.
After retiring, he refused to sit still and missed many of his friends so he started driving for Renzenberger Inc. and later for PTI transporting railroaders until his extended illness ended his ability to work.
Russ was a proud member of the UTU, VFW, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Villa Grove First Christian Church and the Masonic Lodge where he was a 32nd degree Mason and a past master.
He was an integral part of Operation Lifesaver and Ag Days from their beginning. He proudly served as an alderman for the city of Villa Grove for several years.
Russ had many titles during his life but the most important were always dad, grandpa, brother, friend and fisherman.
He is survived by his children, Stephanie Black and husband Kirk, Russell Black Jr., Chad Black and wife Arlinda, all of California, Toni Shrum of Villa Grove, Traci Black-Miles of Urbana and Tina Black-Jones and husband Les of Iuka; special friend and fiancee, Doris Black and their loyal companion, Tucker; brother, Tom Black and wife Margaret of Villa Grove; sisters, Sandy Bowlin of Benton and Mary McKenzie of Villa Grove; as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Russ was born June 2, 1936, in Lawrenceville to Henry and Ethel (Fisher) Black.
He was preceded in death by both parents; brothers, Richard Black and Jerry Black; and sister, Betty Jeffers.