Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience


Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Russell Vanderwell

January 6, 2022
Kalamazoo, MI




Russell passed away peacefully at home Thursday, January 6, 2022 surrounded by family. Russ had a long, full and fulfilled life of 91 years. Russell was born to the late John and Cornelia Vanderwell on November 15, 1930, in Muskegon, Michigan. Russ was a man of great character who dearly loved and was loved by many, especially his wife of 71 years, Donna, and our family; to whom he was an anchor. On June 28, 1950, Russell married the love of his life, Donna, with whom he spent many loving years. Russ' long career in education, which he enjoyed greatly, impacted many, both students and their families. He taught at Kalamazoo Christian High School for 29 years during which he was principal for 11 years. He also coached basketball and baseball for some of those years. After retirement Russ and Donna spent a number of summers at Sandy Pines and winters in Panama City Beach. Russ and Donna also volunteered at Appalachia Reachout in the Kalamazoo center and made many trips to Inez, Kentucky to help the families supported by the missions there.

Russ was very active in his church as well. He enjoyed singing in the church choir and was also a member of the Singing Crusaders for a number of years. Russ touched the lives of members of the congregation in many ways through serving as deacon, elder and Pastoral Visiting Assistant.

As he loved people, Russ greatly enjoyed making friends and maintaining those friendships across many years. His friendship, interest, and love (and his great laugh) will be missed by many.

Surviving Russell is his wife, Donna; children, Charles (Susan Nichols) Vanderwell, Ruth (Larry) DeHaan, Cheryl DeHaan, Robert (Laura) Vanderwell; Brother, Warren (Cathi) Vanderwell; sister-in-law, Eleanor Vanderwell; nine grandchildren, and a number of great and great-great grandchildren. Preceding Russell in passing are his parents; brother, Howard Vanderwell, and son-in-law, Jack DeHaan.

Due to concerns about the current health risks of Covid, a private, family-only service will be held on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at noon. The Second Christian Reformed Church has graciously offered to provide online access to the service. Please use the following link to view the service online at

A memorial celebration will be held at a later, safer time that will be available to all who wish to participate.

In lieu of flowers, please direct any memorial contributions to Second Christian Reformed Church Benevolent Fund, Kindred Hospice - Kalamazoo, or Kalamazoo Christian School Association.