Russell F. Fiske

May 6, 2012


Colonel Russell Fiske dies at 92


It is said that “When a great man dies, for years the light he leaves behind him illuminates the paths of others”. Such a light shines in

our world today.

Colonel Russell Fiske, Marine Corps fighter pilot, athlete, farmer, philosopher, teacher, good friend, and ever-so-beloved husband and

father died on Sunday, May 6, 2012. He was 92.

Russell Francis Fiske was born on April 15, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois, into a family where the men were star athletes and the women were

bright fashion designers. His father, Maximilian Patrick Fiske, a champion baseball pitcher, much beloved in the Chicago Roseland-Pullman area, died when Russell was only 8 years old, leaving his wonderful wife Mae and his four boys Max, Jr., Bob, Harold, and Russell.

As a young boy growing up in big city Chicago during the time of the infamous Al Capone and John Dillinger, Russell had three unusual

wishes: to play championship handball, to fly a plane, and to have a farm. All of these wishes came true. He followed his dreams. He was a

three time National Handball Champion and a highly decorated fighter pilot who served in the Pacific theater of World War II. He traveled

far and wide, an adventurer to the core. And when he married his sweetheart in eastern North Carolina, he not only won the heart of his beloved, he became a farmer.

Russell began playing handball at a local YMCA in the south side of Chicago and won the State Singles Championship at the young age of 17.

He went on to win many YMCA and AAU competitions and countless titles throughout the country in singles and in doubles, often sponsored by,

and at times partnered with, his mentor and friend, Bob Kendler. Bob Kendler later founded the United States Handball Association in 1951.

As three time National Handball Champion, Russell was inducted into the Roseland-Pullman Sports Hall of Fame for handball in 1976.

Russell joined the Naval Aviation Cadets in August of 1942 and was commissioned in the US Marine Corps in 1944 as Second Lieutenant. A

dedicated and honored fighter pilot and Marine, he served in the occupation of China and Japan during World War II, the Korean War, and

then the Reserve Squadron based in Norfolk, Va. Many lives were saved by his daring and committed military service. As Commanding Officer of the best squadron in the Reserves, he received the Marine Air Reserve Trophy in 1964, the highest attainment of efficiency and

combat readiness in the United States. Also, while in the Reserves, Russell commanded the first squadron to complete a refueling in the

air on an American coast to coast flight. He retired, Full Colonel, in 1980.

In 1942, while stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, North Carolina, Russell met Janice Daniels Fairless, a beautiful young student at East Carolina Teachers College in

Greenville. He “fell in love with her as soon as he saw her” and that never changed for a moment. They were married in her home church of

Christian Harbor on July 27, 1945. Russell and Janice made their home in Colerain, Janice teaching second grade at Colerain Elementary

School and Russell farming the family farm with Janice’s father, Cecil Fairless. They had one daughter, Jan Russell, who teaches and travels

internationally, having inherited that gene from her adventurous father.

A vibrant and well known member of hiscommunity, Russell wore many hats and served in many ways. He was President of the Lions Club,

Chairman of the Board of Deacons of Colerain Baptist Church, Worshipful Master of the Masonic Lodge, and member of the Sudan Shrine Temple of New Bern, just to name a few. He loved to hunt and to fish and was well known for his fine sense of humor which could make the heart lighter in any circumstance. Russell was a very special man; a man of great courage and great generosity; a man who loved to sing and to laugh; a man who deeply loved his country and his family and friends.

As he departs us now, he says the words he so loved to say in his later years with that twinkle in his eyes, “Be good, Take care, and

God Bless”.

The long and illustrious life of Colonel Russell Fiske will be honored in a graveside service at Hillcrest Cemetary, Colerain on Thursday May 10th at 4:00 pm,with the Rev. Don Roberts officiating. Memorial donations may be made to Colerain Baptist Church or to the Colerain Rescue Squad.

Garrett-Jones Funeral Home of Ahoskie is serving the Fiske family. Friends and family may send online condolences to

Notify of
9 Condolences
Inline Feedbacks
View all condolences
Carolyn Parker
11 years ago

Mrs.Fiske and Family,

Carl and I were very sad to hear about the passing of Mr.Fiske. He was a wonderful man and a loving husband. The world is a better place because of his life!

Carolyn and Carl Parker

SGM Johnnie Farmer
11 years ago

Our sympathy goes out to Colonel Fiske’s family and we pray for thier comfort. I have had the greatest respect for him over the past 20 years that I have know him and his lovely wife. He has been a faithful member of American Legion Post 102, Ahoskie. His light will shine for a long time.

Lynn House
11 years ago

I have many fond memories of Mr. Fiske as Mekare (Jan) and I were in our teens. The fondest is our summer camp trip to the mountains of NC when Mrs. Janice would say “look Russell no don’t” as we made our way on the narrow winding roads of the beautiful mountains. My thougths were with you two on Thursday afternoon. I know how hard it is to say goodbye.

Lisa Thomas
11 years ago

Mrs. Fiske,

Although I only met your husband and you last week, both of you touched my heart. The love that you shared was so special and strong. Even though Mr. Fiske was sick he still was able to put a smile on my face with his jokes. I am so sorry for your loss and I have you, your family, and friends in my thoughts and prayers.

Love always,

Lisa Thomas, RN.

Al Parker
11 years ago

Mrs. Fiske and Mekare Jan Russell –

I am so sorry to hear this news. Lynn House was kind enough to let me know, and I messaged the news to our Ridgecroft classmates. We all send our condolences, thoughts, and prayers to you during this difficult time.

Jennifer Lilley Paris
11 years ago

Mrs. Fiske and Mekare Jan Russell

Mekare, I am so sorry to hear of your father passing. You and your family are in my thoughts, and prayers.

Merritt & Betty Peele
11 years ago


Bickett Perry, MSgt, USAF, Ret.
11 years ago

My family including my children wish to express our sympathies on the passing of Col Fiske and our condolences to Mrs Fiske and Jan. Mr Fiske was a giant among men and his service to our nation will not be forgotten. God bless you all.

Charles & Leah Newsome
11 years ago

Dear Mrs. Fiske and Jan Russell,

We were very saddened to hear of the Colonel’s passing. He was a great man.

Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.