James Allen Russek, 72, of Pearland, Texas, passed away on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. He is preceded in death by his parents Bernice and Louis E. Russek and sister Paulette Russek. Left to cherish James’ memory is his loving wife of 43 years Helen Russek; sons, Jeff Russek and wife Autumn, Chris Russek and wife Robelyn; daughter, Anne Williams and husband Dywane; brother Patrick Russek and wife Gertrude; sisters, Patricia Beseda, Pamela Javior, Cynthia Wendel and husband Milton, Mary Arrants and husband George; grandchildren, Ethan and Hilde Russek; and a host of many other family and friends.
James Russek. Many of you knew him by that name. Still, to others, he was James Allen, Uncle James, Dad, Grandpa, or Mr. Russek. By any name, he was amazing.
James touched many lives during his 72 years of life; none more so than those of his family. To James, family was always first priority, and nothing brought him more joy than family. He began employment at the age of 14 years and worked continuously until his retirement at 68 all for the benefit of those he loved. In his earlier years while living at home there were many times James offered his paycheck to help his parents support their family. Later he would face many employment challenges (layoffs, economic downturns, etc.) and overcame them all to support his wife and children.
There was never a time when a family member needed help that James didn’t answer in one way or another. Whether it was to lend a little money to help make ends meet or to gather the troops and organize home repairs, remodeling, barbeque and cooking services, or any one of a hundred other tasks, he was there ready to help.
James never backed down from any challenge. This was evident in how he approached the ever-looming shadow of the Vietnam conflict. While some men avoided the draft, either directly or through college admission, and other accepted what came, James faced the obstacle head on. Rather than ride the currents of fate, he enlisted in the US Naval Reserve in 1968. He served as a sonar technician aboard the USS Everett F. Larson DD830 while deployed in the Tonkin Gulf in 1969. James received an honorable discharge from active duty in November 1969 and remained in the reserves until 1972. He remained forever proud of his military service and his patriotism and was very proud of his daughter, Anne’s, and son-in-law, Dywane’s, military service.
After his military service, James attended college at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas where he met his wife, Helen. They both graduated from Sam Houston with bachelor’s degrees before marrying in June of 1974. They lived in Houston for two years before settling down in Pearland where they made their home and raised their family.
James’ faith was an important part of his life and he took an active role in the church community at St. Helen. Among other things, he was a Eucharistic Minister, an usher and served as the chairman of the church bazaar one year.
James was a member of the Knights of Columbus and active for many years. He was a charter member of not one but two different 3rd degree councils. He served as Faithful Navigator for the Wendelin J. Nold Assembly among other offices. During his years of service to his council and assembly, James hosted the float for the Fourth of July Parade in Friendswood, Texas for upward of 12 years improving it year-on-year. He cooked countless meals for dances, fund raisers, fried turkeys and barbeque. There is more than one trophy in the trophy case at the KC hall for Council 8960 that James won for barbeque cook-offs.
When opportunity allowed, James had several hobbies. Woodworking was the foremost, a passion that he shared with his son, Jeff. There were many examples of James’ handiwork around his home and he even made a wooden rocking cradle for his grandson, Ethan, meant to be passed on through the family as an heirloom and used for each new baby to enter the family. Another intertest of James’ was classic cars, something he shared with his son Chris. James’ favorite car he ever owned was a 1957 Chevy Bellaire. It was a point of conversation that came up often and a goal that never came to fruition.
Other pastimes and relaxations that James enjoyed included: fishing, hunting, and camping. Camping was a standard for family vacations while James and Helen’s children were growing up. Many weeks were spent around campfires, setting up tents, and avoiding rain as it seemed to be a family talent to attract rain whenever camping. Hunting was a bit rarer for James and the fun was in the comraderies and enjoyment of the outdoors more than the hunting itself. He had many hunting stories to share which included his father, Louis, his brother Patrick, and his sons, Jeff and Chris among others.
When James was diagnosed with Leukemia, he faced it with the same determination and faith with which he faced every other challenge in his life. His last four years were hard on him, but even as he was facing the biggest challenge of his life he continued to be a husband, a father and a grandfather; supporting his family in any way he could even as they were caring for him.
Sometimes James cried, but most times he laughed. He got scared, he was brave, he doubted, he was steadfast, he loved, and he feared for those he loved. However, no matter what happened in life, he was a rock; there to support his family.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to:
MD Anderson Cancer Center - Dr. Maro Ohanian’s Research
P.O. Box 4486
Houston, TX 77210-4486
For information on memorial funds, please call 713-792-3450 or 1-800-525-5841.
Please include the name of the person you wish to honor with your memorial gift.
Your gift to MD Anderson Cancer Center will make a difference in the struggle against cancer by providing vital support for innovative programs at one of the world’s premier comprehensive cancer centers.
A visitation and rosary will be held at Clayton Funeral Home, 5530 W. Broadway, Pearland, Texas 77581, on Thursday, March 1, 2018. The visitation will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with the rosary at 6:00 p.m. The funeral mass for James will be at St. Helen Catholic Church, 2209 Old Alvin Road, Pearland, Texas 77581, on Friday, March 2, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.