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Dr. Russell G. "Russ" Mawby

Dr. Russell G. "Russ" Mawby

Author: Whitney Wilgus/Monday, October 30, 2017/Categories: Obituaries

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Dr. Russell G. "Russ" Mawby died at the age of 89 on Friday, October 20, 2017.

Russ was born February 23, 1928 in Kent County Michigan to Wesley G. and Ruby A. Mawby, fruit growers on their Orchard View Farm near Grand Rapids. From a two-room school, Russ attended Creston High School playing the tuba for the Creston Polar Bears. He continued his education at Michigan State University, graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science in horticulture. Next, Russ went to Purdue University for a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics, then served two years as field artillery instructor in the U.S. Army. He returned to Michigan State, completing a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics in 1959. In 1952, he joined the Michigan State faculty, rising to Assistant Director of Cooperative Extension responsible for statewide 4-H and youth development programs. In 1961 Russ was promoted to full professor, but was then recruited by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek to become Director of the Division of Agriculture. Russ became Kellogg Foundation President and CEO in 1970 and Chairman and CEO in 1982 until his retirement in 1995. He served on the Board of Directors of the Kellogg Company from 1974 until 1998. Russ was the founding chairman of the Council of Michigan Foundations. He also helped organize the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and was appointed by Governor John Engler to the Michigan Community Service Commission. He served on the Board of Trustees of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch and also as a member of the Board of Directors of the J. M. Smucker Company. With a deep and abiding love for his alma mater, Michigan State University, he served on its Board of Trustees from 1992 to 1996. He supported his Spartan football and basketball teams through good times and bad. During football season, he was known for betting hot fudge sundaes on the MSU vs. UM game. Russ always downplayed his lifetime achievements and the helping hand he extended to many around the world. He would say "I'm just a farmer from Hickory Corners." He did his own daily morning and evening farm chores on his horse farm when at home. Humble is the word many of his friends used for the man who touched so many lives. A devout Christian, Russ provided leadership with a small group of volunteers, to organize the first Battle Creek Community Prayer Breakfast in 1981. It continues today attracting over 1,000 area citizens each year. Russ was a long-time active member of Yorkville Community Church near his home in Augusta. He was preceded in death by his wife of nearly fifty years, Ruth, his son Doug, his brother Edwin and sister Marion. Russ is survived by his wife of 16 years, Lou Ann Mawby, his children Karen (Randy) Willis, Debra Mawby, David Mawby, James (Jolene) Sherman, Steven Sherman and his brother, Roger Mawby. He enjoyed spending time with his 14 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. A Memorial Service and reception celebrating Russ' life will be held Saturday, October 28 at 11:00 a.m. at the Sherman Lake YMCA-Kellogg Hall, 6225 North 39th Street, Augusta. Russ' family will greet friends on Friday, October 27, from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. at the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home, 105 Capital Avenue, Northeast, Battle Creek. Private family interment will be held at Yorkville Cemetery. 


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