Marcus B. Russ, Sr., passed on December 20, 2017 following a valiant fight against cancer. Known fondly as “Mark,” “Russ” and “Papa Bing,” he passed peacefully in his hospice home surrounded by the love of his devoted wife “Kate,” their five children, Kathy, Mark, Greg, Doug, and Betsy, and their families. He was 83.
Mark was born October 6, 1934 in Miami Florida, the youngest son of Florence Gregory and Leo S. Russ. He shared a dedicated bond and love of airplanes with his older brother, Isham; originally inspired by the Smilin’ Jack comic strip, they learned to fly as teenagers, and shared many adventures through the years. Mark graduated from St. Mary’s Catholic High School in 1952 and married Katherine Coxe, the love of his life, in 1954. For nearly 64 years, they have modeled, in good times and bad, a deep commitment to love, family life, and the Christian faith. For those of us blessed by their legacy, many happy memories around food, boats, airplanes, sports, and lakes/oceans give us comfort now.
Flying and restoring classic airplanes, especially “tail draggers,” was a lifelong passion and hobby. Mark purchased or restored eight airplanes between 1950 and 2010: two J-3 Piper Cubs, a Luscombe 8E, a Cessna 140-A, a Cessna 170-B, two bi-wing open cockpit planes, a Smith Mini-plane and a Starduster I, and a Culver Cadet. His closest friends shared his love of flying; in fact, Mark and Kate lived in an aviation community with a private grass runway where they frequently enjoyed homegrown air shows from the family deck.
And that’s what he did in his “spare” time! Mark’s very first job was at Seacoast Distribution Center, where going the extra mile paid off in a promotion – a lifelong pattern that moved the family from Miami to Orlando and then to Greenville, SC, and culminated in his position as VP for Sales and Marketing for the Orderest Corporation. He was a member of the founding team of Carolina Baby (now Babies R Us), and later opened three more businesses, The Pizza Place for his wife, Kate, and two more specialty sleep companies, Snoozers and Airbed Depot.
Mark is survived by his wife and five children; eleven grandchildren--Ashley, Alexa, Jon, Jessica, Lindsey, Amy, Katie, Matt, Emilie, Abbey, and Lauren; four great grandchildren--Cash, Georgia, Ira, and Landon; Isham’s family: Sally, Becky, and Danny; and his maternal “sister-cousins,” Jackie Sowers and Bev Moore.
The Russ Family extends its deepest gratitude to our Open Arms Hospice team: Alana RN, Elaine, CNA, Joe, Chaplin, Wendy, RNP, Dr. Patrick Carey and Jen, Social Worker; to our spouses, Marla, Miriam, Della, and David and our cousin, Linda. We say a special word of thanks to our brother Greg and his wife Miriam for hosting Dad’s hospice in their home in Easley so that we could all be near in the last months of his life and at his passing. A private service is planned for the family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be made in honor of Marcus B. Russ, Sr., to Open Arms Hospice of Greenville, 1836 W. Georgia Rd. Simpsonville SC 29680. Katherine “Kate” Russ will receive letters of condolence at her home in Myrtle Beach, SC.