Russell E. Kramer, 93, formerly of Blue Grass; passed away on Saturday, December 2, 2023. Visitation will be on Wednesday, December 13, 2023, from 5-8pm at Weerts Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, December 14, 2023, at 11am at the Blue Grass Presbyterian Church, with a visitation starting at 10am. Private family burial will be at Strawberry Point Cemetery. Memorials in Russell’s memory may be made to the Blue Grass Presbyterian Church. Online condolences can be made to the family by visiting his obituary at www.weertsfh.com
Russell was born on January 6, 1930, to Carl and Lucy Kramer on the family farm near Strawberry Point, IA. Russell was the 3rd of four children. His twin brother would have been the 4th but he didn’t survive birth. Russell used to say that he was fortunate that his brother had kicked him out first. He attended the Kramer School which was the typical rural one-room school that was located on a corner of the farm. Growing up, he was a member of 4-H and had a number of pets including horses and rabbits. Russell’s first job was working for his uncle on his farm.
Anyone who was alive back then will tell you that dances were a big thing back in the day. Russell used to attend many dances around the area. It was at the Checkerboard in Prairie du Chien that he met a young lady named Rozella and he asked her for a dance. She must of really liked him as she didn’t go home with her brother and her girlfriend but instead Russell drove her home in his Studebaker. It was after midnight when she finally got home from the dance. Rozella liked to say that she did an April Fool to Russell, but he apparently wasn’t upset as he soon began making more trips up the hill to her family’s farm in Wisconsin
Russell was united in marriage to Rozella Cathman on March 5, 1958, in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The night before the wedding there was a snowstorm that dropped up to 5 inches of snow. Needless to say, some of the people that were planning on attending didn’t make it. The new couple lived in various locations in Northeast Iowa and Southwest Wisconsin for the first part of their marriage. Russell came to Davenport looking for work and when he had gotten his probation period in with Rock Island Millwork, he moved the rest of the now growing family to Blue Grass. That was in 1963. Russell was then able to secure a job with Alcoa. He worked nights for many years and worked all over the huge Alcoa plant. He put in many hours of overtime and worked many Saturdays and Sundays. Russell really became known by many of his fellow workers when he had the job driving the sweeper throughout the plant. Shortly after Russell began working at Alcoa there was a Program called ZD-Zero Defects. His supervisor submitted his name to be recognized for his “Outstanding Achievements and Contributions” to the program. This resulted in Russell earning the nickname of ZD which stuck to him even after he retired in 1993 with 26 ½ years of service.
Russell helped with Boy Scouting programs as his son advanced through the program and he even held the position of Assistant Scout Master. He was a long-time member of the Blue Grass Presbyterian Church and was one of the organizing members of the Blue Grass Lions Club. Russell enjoyed working in his large gardens that the family would raise all kinds of vegetables, strawberries and raspberries. Russell also loved to go fishing through much of his life till getting around became difficult. He still had his very first fishing pole that his brother had made from a stick and used wire to hold the reel and make the eyes that the line traveled through. As he began to get towards retirement Russell began to get interested in tying his own flies and learning to use a fly rod. He was a member of the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association for many years. Russell also enjoyed watching all the various birds that would come to feed at his bird feeders. Over the years the family lived in 3 different homes, but they never left Blue Grass until Rozella’s health began to fail. Because of his love and devotion to his wife, he and Rozella first moved to Walcott Courtyard Estates so he could be with her. Rozella’s further declining health required her to move to memory and skilled care, so they moved to Davenport Lutheran Homes. Russell lived in the assisted living apartments and could walk over and eat meals and be with his wife. The Covid pandemic caused Russell to be separated from Rozella, which was very tough as they had now been married more than 60 years. This prompted moving to Bickford of Davenport so that they could again be near each other. Rozella in memory care and Russell in the assisted living apartments. Rozella passed away in the fall of 2021 after celebrating their 63rd anniversary. Russell also enjoyed a new hobby of finding painted rocks and posting pictures to Facebook. He then started painting his own which he would either hide for strangers to find or give to friends and family.
Anyone who met Russell in the later years would comment that he was such a nice, sweet man and loved his witty comments that he would make, especially if you would ask him a question. Russell was a small man, but he survived numerous events besides being only 3 lb. and 7 oz at birth. He never had much use of the term, “give up”, even to the end when his light finally went out. He liked telling his testimonies and would tell others to, “ask God for help”. It’s for sure that he had many times done so himself.
Those left to carry on his memory are the family’s five children, Kevin Kramer, Kathy (Tim) Marquis, Birdie (Steve) Gehring, Charlotte (John) Richard, and Lucy (Jeff) Kramer; beloved grandchildren: Nikki, Bryan, Michelle, Becca, David, Joseph, Megan, Jessica, Shayla, Justin, Jenny, and Kyle; 16 great-grandchildren: Gilbert, Russell, Calvin, Philip, Heidi, Andersyn, Emersyn, Colson, Aliyah, Zelie, Levi, Emmett, Owen, Jaden, Jeremiah, and Jenavieve: along with numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Rozella: his parents, sister and two brothers.
The family would like to thank all the staff at Bickford of Davenport. You have bent over backwards to help us feel at home and allowed Russell and Rozella to continue their love story. Russell was also able to meet many special people and watch the various animal life and the numerous birds that were drawn to his bird feeders outside of his window.
We sure appreciate it, thank you ever so much.
Carl and Lucy KramerParents (deceased)
Rozella KramerWife (deceased)
Kathy (Tim) MarquisDaughter
Birdie (Steve) GehringDaughter
Charlotte (John) RichardDaughter
Lucy (Jeff) KramerDaughter
Nikki, Bryan, Michelle, Becca, David, Joseph, Megan, Jessica, Shayla, Justin, Jenny, and KyleGrandchildren
Gilbert, Russell, Calvin, Philip, Heidi, Andersyn, Emersyn, Colson, Aliyah, Zelie, Levi, Emmett, Owen, Jaden, Jeremiah, and JenavieveGreat Grandchildren
Russell also leaves numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Rozella: his parents, sister and two brothers.