Turner W. Russell, the son of Ronald and Pamela (Huntley) Russell, was born December 25, 1996 in Minot, North Dakota. He arrived two months early at 2 pounds, 3 ounces, and blessed his family as the greatest Christmas gift. Turner passed away on July 24, 2020, at home in the presence of his family, following a two-year battle with brain cancer. His family is thankful he is free from suffering and experiencing awe and true life with his Savior.
Growing up in Atlantic, Iowa, Turner was known as a compassionate, loving person whose smile would light up a room. During high school, he was active in choir, show choir, journalism and photography. He had an “eye” for photography and was known for constantly photographing friends and family (often unbeknownst to them) with his 35 mm camera or cell phone. Turner was active in the Atlantic Evangelical Free Church youth ministries during junior and senior high. He happily volunteered for children’s ministries such as ESL class, Operation Christmas Child, and Awana Clubs. Turner loved church and his church family. He became a member after returning home from Colorado.
After graduating from Atlantic High School in 2015, Turner attended Colorado Christian University (CCU) in Lakewood. His years at CCU were a huge blessing -- great adventures, as well as spiritual and personal growth. Turner deeply loved the Christian community and forged many friendships. He majored in psychology, with a communications minor. As a full-time student, Turner held various part-time jobs, including assisting elderly and disabled individuals. He was on track to graduate early (December 2018) with a bachelor’s degree when he had to leave (September 2018) due to cancer.
Turner inspired many by his humble, gentle, kind spirit. Friendships were very important to him, and he was the ultimate, faithful friend. His ever-present smile and demeanor made him approachable, trustworthy, and a dear friend to many.
Turner had a passion for missions. He cared about the physical well-being and souls of people across our world, such as those suffering in poverty and other ways. Turner did short-term missions work in Ecuador (as a shy boy of age 14), Peru, Haiti, and India. He also had the opportunity for spiritual growth and local missions work during summer trips to Minneapolis and Kansas City with the rest of his youth group. At college, he was involved with Sojourners, a ministry group supporting homeless persons in the Denver area. The group got to know impoverished individuals through providing food, conversation, prayer, and Bible study. Turner considered these people his friends and had a burden for their needs.
Turner loved Jesus since he was a toddler, and his faith was prominent in his life. He desired for friends and family to know the joy of being a child of God. The loss of Turner on this earth seems unfathomable, and he is greatly grieved by his family and many dear friends. But Turner believed and recognized that any good thing in him was a gift from God. Months ago, he reflected in writing: “Not surprisingly many people have asked me if I am mad at God. I am not. I’ve been confused and hurt, but not mad. I am still just as thankful to God as I have ever been before. Why? Because God has loved us so much that He sent Jesus to take on our sin so that we may believe and find life. I am (quite literally) eternally thankful for God’s free gift of grace. For forgiving me over and over when I don’t deserve it. Thank You for the cross. Thank you for wisdom we don’t understand. Thank You for love deeper than anything this bland and sinful world could ever offer.” We know that Turner is home, with his Heavenly Father, and so this is unfathomable -- that God loved us and sent Christ to pay the penalty for our sins, giving us the opportunity for eternal life if we believe. The cancer did not win the battle, because Christ had won that battle long ago. Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Turner is survived by his parents, Ron and Pam Russell and sister, Lauren, of Atlantic; grandparents, William and Nancy Russell of Wilmington, DE; Uncle Bob Russell and cousins, Phoebe and Olivia, of Mukilteo, WA and their mother, Aunt Diane Hamilton, also of WA; Aunt Lana (Brad) Bartels, cousin, Casey (Tavia) Horpested and daughter, Lennon; cousins, Sarah (Chris) Schroeder and Scott (Rosa Anderson) Bartels and their respective children; and Great Aunt Lois Nelson --- all of Williston, ND. Also missing him are the family pets Skiddles and Chloe.
He was preceded in death by grandparents, Herb and Vi Huntley of Williston, ND, and his beloved cat, Katey.
Open visitation will be held from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., Thursday, July 30th at Roland Funeral Home in Atlantic. The family will greet friends from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Thursday at the Roland Funeral Home.
A funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m., Friday, July 31, 2020, at the Evangelical Free Church in Atlantic. Burial will be in the Atlantic Cemetery. The service will be livestreamed at www.rolandfuneralservice.com shortly before service time with additional overflow seating at the Roland Funeral Home in Atlantic for those who wish to gather. Masks are recommended and social distancing is to be followed.
Memorials can be designated to the family for establishing an annual scholarship in Turner’s memory. The scholarship will be designated for a local high school graduate choosing to attend a Christian college.
Roland Funeral Service is caring for Turner’s family and his arrangements. Condolences may be left at www.rolandfuneralservice.com.
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IN LOVING MEMORY OF
BORN ~ December 25, 1996, in Minot, North Dakota
DIED ~ July 24, 2020, in Atlantic, Iowa
at the age of 23 years, 6 months & 30 days
Friday, July 31, 2020
Evangelical Free Church
Pastor Donald McLean
“I Know” and “Glorious Day” by Alex Johnson
“In Christ Alone” by the congregation, led by Alex Johnson
HONORARY CASKET BEARERS
Anna Iekel ~ loved like a sister
Marie Olson ~ loved like a sister
Calden Scranton ~ college roommate friend (CO)
Kira Lange ~ college friend (CO)
Mikayla Kakihara ~ college friend (CO)
Hannah McLean ~ friend since high school
Danielle Lambert ~ friend since high school
Tiffany Williams ~ friend since middle school
Hannah Nelson ~ friend since kindergarten
Matthew Johnson ~ friend since infancy (ND)
FLOWERS AND HOSPITALITY
Memorials can be designated to the family for establishing an annual scholarship in Turner’s memory.
The scholarship will be designated for a local high school graduate choosing to attend a Christian college.
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