Rev. Russell G. Johnson, 95, of Russell, Pa., died Monday morning, Dec. 6, 2021, at the John and Orpha Blair Hospice House, Warren, Pa., after an extended illness.
He was born June 19, 1926, in Warren, Pa., to the late George A. and Mildred K. Samuelson Johnson.
He has resided in Warren since 1988 and was a former resident of Clifton, N.J., and Marion, Princetown and Clymer, N.Y.
He was a graduate of Gordon College, Boston, Mass., and Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia.
Russell was an ordained minister with the Reformed Church of America. He pa-stored Reformed churches in Clymer, N.Y., Princetown (Schenectady), N.Y., Marion, N.Y. and Clifton, N.J. More recently, he attended North Warren Presbyterian church and was active at the Warren Senior Center.
He is survived by two children: Karen Marsh (Da-vid) of Chili, N.Y., and Bruce Johnson (Katharine) of Willow Grove, Pa.; son-in-law, Harold MacMillan of Highland Lakes, N.J.; son-in-law, Jesus Sarte’ (Joy) of Freehold, N.J.; one sibling, Nancy Johnson of Warren, Pa.; 12 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Several nieces and nephews also survive.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Ruth E. Brown Johnson, whom he married Aug. 26, 1950, in Pittsfield, Mass., and who died on Nov. 22, 2020. Also deceased are two daughters: Kristine Sarte’ and Linnea MacMillan; and siblings: Lois Setterholm, Carolyn Sorensen and Robert Johnson.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way. (Ps.37:23) Russell was a man who was committed life long to follow that way and to serve his Lord Jesus Christ. His desire was to live according to God’s Word and to communicate that Word to others. He did that as he pa-stored four different congregations throughout his 34 years of ministry. After his retirement in 1988, Russell returned to his hometown. He continued to teach, forming a Bible study group at the Warren Senior Center. He always had a sermon or two inside him and was willing to preach when needed. A quote from one of his final journal entries (Oct. 2021) says this: “I have tried to sum my life by listing my achievements. Should I not rather sum it up by Glorifying God in His Faithfulness to me? There is no room for false pride. The one thing that is important is my faithfulness to Him.”
Russell’s desire to serve God spilled into every aspect of his life. As a young man growing up, he sacrificed some of his own ambitions and desires to work after school and help sup-port his widowed mother and his siblings through some difficult years. He was aware at a young age that he would be a minister later in life. After high school he joined the U.S. Navy and served during World War II. When discharged, he began his college education with the goal of becoming a pastor.
Russell was a faithful and loving husband to Ruth, his wife of just over 70 years. He often acknowledged that Ruth was a full partner in his ministry, and that he could not have succeeded without her cheerful and faithful help. He was a wonderful father to his four children. Family was important enough that he again sacrificed some chances to gain prestige. Instead, he chose to be home almost every evening for dinner. His example spoke loud and clear to his children, emphasizing the values that are most important in life.
Of course, Russell and Ruth went on to have many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Most of them arrived during the retirement years when they could be visited and enjoyed. They all have very much admired and loved their grandpa. His family is thankful to God for a life that was so well lived.
A service will be held at the convenience of the family at the Donald E. Lewis Funeral Home, Inc., Warren, Pa. Interment will be in Thompson Hill Cemetery.
Those wishing to place memorials may do so through the Westminster Theological Seminary Society, 2960 W. Church Road, Glenside, PA. 19038.
E-mail condolences may be sent by visiting www.lewisfuneralhome.inc.