Russell Raymond Irwin, 80, made his final race to the clouds Sept. 10, 2018, from a Lincoln,
Neb., hospital. His passing was the result of a spinal cord injury from a recent fall.
Born Nov. 30, 1937, in New Concord, Ohio, to Torrence and Adelia Claire (Thompson) Irwin,
the family included sisters Ferne and Joanne. Claire died of leukemia from radiation when the
children were young. Torrence then married Mother Helen and became parents of Howard Lee.
Russ graduated from New Concord High School and later graduated from Sterling (Kan.)
College. Russ taught junior high science. During a seasonal job, Russ had a work-related accident
that cost him his left hand. Russ never felt sorry for himself but only figured out how to do
anything from peeling potatoes to woodworking. He then graduated with honors from wastewater
treatment school in Neosho, Mo. He and his family moved to Lincoln in 1973 where Russ was a
wastewater treatment plant training operator for the State of Nebraska. He retired in 2009. Russ
and the plants he worked with received many awards; he had much fun with fellow trainer Lynn
Marshall of Cincinnati, Ohio. They still stayed in touch.
He also served as treasurer for the Iowa-based Association of Boards of Certification (ABC),
having opportunities to travel to Bamff, to Montana and many other places.
Russ LOVED fast cars and for years made the annual trek to the Pike’s Peak Race to the Clouds.
Once he got to the top with a media pass, merely by carrying a 35mm, regular lens camera!
Russ participated in horse shows and car cone racing. He flew an airplane. As a woodworker, he
was known for his soup-can sized gavels, also making bookcases, candlestick holders, bats, a boot
box, tv stand and, most elaborate of all, a pie safe!
He instilled respect in his children and was proud of his family. He was a zealous blood donor.
For the last two decades, Russ and Cheryl gained a family of international students. Each year
for 25 years they invited Asian and other students over for Thanksgiving. The engineering
students especially analyzed how exactly to slice the turkey. When word got out of Russ’ passing,
three of their former Chinese students called – two from China – to express sadness for their
Russ loved driving, and knew all of the roads that led to good small-town cafes. In 2009 he and
Cheryl traveled to Australia with a study-abroad group of UNL students. They spent most of their
two weeks on the island of Tasmania where, yes, the Tasmanian devil does exist.
Russ has been an active member for the Clinton Neighborhood Organization, serving on the
board for years, including as president. He attended every annual neighborhood cleanup and hand-
delivered newsletters door-to-door twice a year. A dedicated member of Capital City Kiwanis,
Russ was well known for soliciting practical car cleaning tools for the annual fund-raising soup
supper and silent auction.
Christ Place was Russ’ church home for 30 years. He helped pour footings for the original
building in the 1980s. His ministry there includes making service recordings, changing oil for
single moms, being a weekly greeter and participating in weekly small group study.
Survivors: wife Cheryl (Alberts); son Bob (Diane) Irwin, Eagle; daughters Ann (Scott) Gaston
and Ginger (Randy) Greenwald, both Lincoln; seven grandchildren, Jarrod (Carol) Stephenson,
Briana Gaston, Keaton Gaston, Jason (Kaitlyn) Irwin, Jennifer Irwin, Cinnamon (Vince) Dawson,
Aubri Greenwald; six great-grandchildren; sister Ferne (Campbell) Millar, Littleton, Colo.;
brother Howard Lee Irwin, Urbana, Ohio; brother-in-law Jim (Roxanne) Ditzenberger, Littleton;
brother-in-law Mark (Deb) Alberts, Gothenburg; mother-in-law Rosemary Alberts; dear friends
Lynn and Joan Marshall of Cincinnati; beloved dog Penny; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins
and many friends and former coworkers. Preceded in death by parents; sister Joanne; father-in-
law George Alberts.
Visitation: 5 pm to 9 pm Wednesday with family present 5 pm to 7 pm at Butherus Maser & Love.
Funeral service: 11 am Thursday, September 13, 2018, at Christ’s Place Church, 1111 Old Cheney Road, Lincoln. A second funeral service will be at 11 am Friday, September 14, 2018, at Blase-Strauser Memorial Chapel in Gothenburg, Nebraska. Burial will follow in the Gothenburg Cemetery, Gothenburg.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Christ’s Place Church for Royal Family Kid’s Camp, Love Lincoln or Missions; Capital City Humane Society; or donor’s choice.