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September 1985 - November 1995
Founder: William R. Russell

Taken at the 2nd Annual Reunion Banquet on Sept. 9, 1989
at the VFW Post 6433, Waterloo, NY

NOTE: It is with a great deal of sadness that I post the following:

William Ralph Russell, 77, was set free from his struggles Friday, February 20, 2004 at St. Mary's Medical Center. He is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Emmanuela (Manola) Ossorio Ruiz Russell. He was a native of Illinois. The Russells moved to Knoxville in 1982, after they both retired from the Illinois Department of Mental Health in Dixon, Illinois, where he worked for 35 years as an activity therapist. He was president of Local 172 of the American Federation of State, County and Muncipal Employees. He was also state president of the Illinois ASFME Council.

He grew up in Southern Illinois, and served in the United States Navy during World War II. He was stationed at Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, where he met his wife. The Russells were married in Santurce, Puerto Rico, September 9, 1945.

He completed boot camp at Sampson Naval Station in Sampson, New York, and was the founder and first president of the Sampson World War II Navy Veterans' Organization. The Russells traveled extensively in service of the Sampson veterans group, which grew to include more than 5,000 members. He was also a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars; the American Legion; Masonic Lodge 738 in Mascot; Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 32nd degree, Valley of Knoxville; Order of Eastern Star, Mascot Chapter 348.

The Russells were members of New Life United Methodist Church, and the fellowship of the congregation and of the Rev. Dr. Pat Polis were a great source of strength and comfort during his illness.

He leaves a host of friends all over the country as well as in Knoxville.

Those who wish to make memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may make donations to the New Life United Methodist Church Memorial Fund, 7921 Millertown Pike, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37924.

May he rest in peace. He will always be remembered and never forgotten.

(Posted by: Diana Fackler, Past Business Secretary)

Message from the Founder

Initially, most projects start out with an idea. The basic idea develops into a desire and somewhere along the line the similarity between the idea and the desire starts to separate and the desire to "make things happen" dominates.

The idea to organize the Sampson Navy Veterans occurred to me when my wife and I returned to the old Naval Training Station for a visit in the fall of 1985. I remembered Sampson as it was when I took basic training in March and part of April 1944. It was a shock to see that most of the original buildings were no longer there. While talking with the Park Superintendent, he told me that the Royce Memorial Chapel had recently been torn down. He also said that other buildings had been dismantled and moved, including some of the drill halls. Obviously something had to be done. It was no simple task to accomplish but the end result was the formation of the Sampson Navy Veterans.

Most of our members know that our first meeting was held at the VFW Post 6433 on September 12, 1987. What they don't know is what happened from the time I visited the Sampson Park in 1985 and our first meeting in Waterloo on September 12, 1987. It wasn't easy!

Approximately one hundred and fifty (150) Sampson WW-2 Navy Veterans were present at our first meeting and only forty-eight thought enough of the idea to join. Commander F. V. (Horse) Kubasik and Bob Craig, Sr., VFW Post 6433, officially welcomed us.

As the founder and first president of the Sampson WW-2 Navy Veterans, Inc., it is my belief that the entire Sampson organization owes a big "THANK YOU" to those 48 charter members. We also owe a lot to VFW Post 6433, Waterloo, NY.

Sincerely yours in comradeship,

William R. (Bill) Russell
Founder and Past President
(September 12, 1987 to November 1, 1995)


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