Russel Elton VandeBerg, 93, of Neillsville passed away March 10, 2017 at home in the care of family, Hospice, and aides while battling cancer. He was born on September 26, 1923 to Horace and Fern VandeBerg as the youngest of 5 children, Bernice, Harold, Loyd, and Gale. He was raised in the town of York and graduated from the Neillsville High School. Russel served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from February 1946 til March of 1947. He married Erline Ziegler on December 9, 1950 and they lived in the town of York for 7 years where they began their family. In 1958, they bought a farm on Hwy 10 south of the golf course and raised 6 children: Bruce, Craig, Mark, Marcia, Robert, and Renee. In 1978, they sold the farm and the property became annexed to the city to hold Citizens State Bank, Pamida, the American Legion, Homme Home, the Dental Clinic, and private homes along Fairgrounds Ave.
As a young man, Russel worked double time by farming up to 360 crop acres of sweet corn and sweet peas for the Loyal Cannery on land which he retained in the town of York and on the edge of town. He also raised 85 head of Hereford beef cattle and various other animals for his children's farm experience, while continuing his postal career as a rural carrier.
Through his exemplary service to the Rotary Club. Russel was instrumental in several area community projects which included the first expansion of the Neillsville High School. Also he was head of the Tri-County Committee for Higher Education which included Clark, Wood and Marathon Counties formed to bring college education facilities closer to the people of Wisconsin in form of two-year colleges. The creation of Bruce Mound was another Rotary project that Russel played a huge role in. Russel was also chairman for the Rotary Club's "Pig Project". In cooperation with the High School Ag teacher, it helped Neillsville High School farm kids make money for themselves. The project resulted in tremendous favorable media publicity and Neillsville soon became known as "The feeder pig capital of the world". Russ was active in the Neillsville Parent Teacher's Association, the Neillsville Masonic Lodge as a Master Mason, and in The American Legion. In 1980, Russel retired from the Postal Service with 30 years of service. He was active in the National Rural Letter Carries Association, and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.
With a love for travel, Russ and Erline visited every state in the nation and over 15 foreign countries. Four winters were spent in the dry, warm climate of Lake Havasu, Arizona followed by fourteen years of residence in Boulder City, Nevada and the past eleven in Mesa, Arizona. They didn't forget Neillsville though, and returned to spend each summer with family and friends. Although Russel worked a lot, he played a good share in his later years, continuing ski trips to numerous states with Erline and their ski group. He also enjoyed Canadian fishing trips with his sons and friends for years. Golfing became a way to socialize and his score was irrelevant. Dancing was his passion and many times he would say, "May I die in the center of the floor during the last dance of the evening." Russel VandeBerg is survived by his wife Erline, sons Bruce (Mary) of Neillsville, Craig (Linda) of Oakland, CA, Mark of Eau Claire, Robert (Amye) of Bloomington, IL, and daughters Marcia (Jerry) Gross of Neillsville and Renee (Chris) Harwell of Knoxville, TN. He is also survived by one brother, Gale of Madison, and 10 grandchildren: Clint and Casey VandeBerg, Brittany Gilmer, Jasmine, Dylan, Roman, and Jade Gross, James and Lauren VandeBerg, Devin Harwell, and 9 great-grand children.
A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 a.m., Sunday, June 4, 2017 at the Gesche Funeral Home. Visitation time will be from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., prior to the services Sunday morning.
Online Condolences may be made at www.geschefh.com.
The Gesche Funeral Home is assisting Russel's family with Funeral arrangements.