Funeral services for Russell Evans were held on Saturday, January 4, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at the St. John Lutheran Church in Gregory, SD with Pastor Marcus Ring officiating.
Music was provided by Geoff Smith, soloist, accompanied by Melanie Hannahs, organist.
Janice Gruhn and Lindsay Paulson were in charge of the guest book and Jessie Ruzicka and Jessica Ruzicka were flower attendants.
Casket bearers were Russ’ grandchildren: Lorne Ruzicka, Taylor Ruzicka, Ryan Evans, Cory Bengtson, Kyle Grim, Cody Grim, Ashley Van Matre, Abigail Van Matre and Aiden Van Matre. Honorary casket bearers were all of Russ’ coworkers at the telephone company and his hunting and fishing friends.
Interment was in the IOOF Cemetery with military honors by the Gregory American Legion, the Burke VFW and the Navy Honors Team. Kotrba-Smith Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Russell Lee Evans was born on June 13, 1945, to Everett and Dorothy (Elssasser) Evans.
Russ went to grade school at Lincoln Elementary, then seventh and eighth grade at Axtell, and high school at Washington High in Sioux Falls, SD.
Russ joined the Navy in January of 1963. He served four years and three of those years were on the ship USS Furgutt DLG6 during the Vietnam War. He was a radio man and the teletype repairman.
Russ married Bonnie Bell in April of 1963 and had two daughters. After the war Russ went to work for Northwestern Bell in 1966 in Sioux Falls. He also worked in Mitchell, Winner, Rapid City, and Spearfish.
Russ moved back to Sioux Falls in 1984 to manage a telephone crew. Russ married Judy Baalson in 1995 and they moved to Denver, CO where Russ was a managing engineer in the Littleton Qwest Telephone Company.
Russ retired in 1998 and moved back to Sioux Falls. He took some time to fish and hunt and went five months to Apache Junction, AZ for the winters. In 2001 Russ went to work for RVW as a managing engineer installing telephone lines and then fiber optic cable. He worked in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado.
He enjoyed fishing trips to Canada, Lake Erie, and the Missouri River. He also went on many elk hunts in Wyoming and deer and turkey hunts in the Black Hills.
Russ and Judy moved to Gregory in 2003 and he kept working for RVW in the spring and summer. He and Judy enjoyed 17 winters in Apache Junction, AZ. During the winters in Arizona, Russ and Judy developed a love for golfing. Russ was a member of St. John Lutheran Church in Gregory.
Due to poor health Russ had to quit working and was not able to return to Arizona in the winter time. Russ passed away on December 23, 2019 at Avera Rosebud Country Care Center at the age of 74.
Russ was preceded in death by his parents Everett Evans and Dorothy Kotchian, step father Ray Kotchian, step mother Violet Evans, three sisters Linda Skrondahl, Donna Johnson, and Betty Hanken, and brother Edward Evans.
Russ is survived by his wife Judy, two daughters Teri (Leland) Ruzicka and Jeanie Evans (Roy Boone), step daughter Roberta (Van Matre) Greibel (Phil Gibson), step son Robert Van Matre, half brothers Pat and Jim Evans, Raymond and Roger Kotchian, half sister Melissa Barker, grandchildren Lorne and Taylor Ruzicka, Ryan Evans, Cory Bengtson, Kyle and Cody Grim, Ashley, Abigail, and Aiden Van Matre, two greatgrandchildren Mary Ruzicka and Mya Grim, and many nieces and nephews.