James C. (Big Jim) Russell, 77, a resident of 685 Russell Road, Cooperstown, died peacefully at 1:37 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in his home surrounded by his loving family, following a period of declining health.
He was born June 25, 1935, in Titusville, a beloved son of the late Louis and Lauretta Rice Russell.
He attended the former Sunville Elementary School and graduated from Titusville Area High School.
Following his high school graduation, he proudly served his country as a peacetime member of the United States National Guard. He enrolled at Penn State University where he pursued a degree in agriculture.
Mr. Russell worked for a number of years as a machinist at Joy Manufacturing Co. of Franklin until disability forced his early retirement.
He was a lifelong active farmer and horseman. Mr. Russell was known throughout the state for his premier Percheron draft horses. His horses were a focal point of many weddings and parades and they were actively shown and driven at local fairs, winning countless ribbons. He enjoyed driving for his friends of the area’s Amish communities.
He was very active in 4-H. He was a 4-H leader in Venango County for more than 25 years. He also was a member of the Venango County Draft Horse Association and the Pioneer Tractor Association, where he was also actively involved with his longtime love of old-time farm tractors. He enjoyed collecting automobiles and was most proud of his Ford trucks and his Lincoln Continental Town Car.
He was a member of the Wallaceville United Methodist Church.
He was married March 13, 1957, to the former Marie Stanonis, who survives.
In addition to his beloved wife of 55 years, he is survived by his children, Rhonda Best and her husband, Tom, of Cooperstown, Cheryl Huff and her husband, Mike, of Cooperstown, Gail Larson and her husband, Louie, of Franklin, Keith Russell and his wife, Sonja, of Polk, Tracy Shaffer and her husband, Larry Shaffer Jr., of Cranberry, and Jody King and her husband, David, of Cooperstown.
Also surviving are his grandchildren, Jessica Huff Robertson and her husband, Brent, of Volant, Carl Huff of Cooperstown, Greg Gilliland of Norfolk, Va., Tomann Best Chatley and her husband, Nick, of Utica, Payne Best of Boulder, Colo., Kirk Russell of Polk, Kyle Russell of Polk, Angeline King of Cooperstown and Joey King also of Cooperstown; and two great-grandchildren, Jacob and Caetlin Chatley.
Also surviving is his sister, Wanda Welsh of Meadville; in addition to many loving nieces, nephews, extended family members and friends.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Beryl Russell; his sister, Genta Reese; a son-in-law, Ken Gilliland, and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Stanley and Angeline Stanonis.
Friends may call Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Timothy E. Hartle Funeral Home, 1328 Elk St., Franklin.
Funeral services will be conducted Sunday at 3 p.m. at the funeral home with Pastor Earl Dykes, of the Wallaceville United Methodist Church, officiating.
Memorial contributions, if desired, may be directed to either: The Wallaceville United Methodist Church (mailing address) 865 Wallaceville Road, Titusville, Pa. 16354; The Southern Care Hospice of Meadville, 1245 Park Ave., Meadville, Pa. 16335; or to The New Horse Barn Fund, c/o: The Venango County Fair, Inc., RD 1 Mercer Road at Route 62 South, Franklin, Pa. 16323.
Please visit hartlefuneralhome.com for further information and to leave a note of condolence.