Russell Edward Mann died Aug. 25, 2019, at the age of 96.
Russell was born June 27, 1923, in Queens Village, N.Y., to Mabel and Arthur Mann.
He was a quiet, studious boy who enjoyed photography, school, theater and history. Highlighting his youth were the many bicycle rides made to the 1939-40 World’s Fair, eight miles away in Flushing Meadows.
After high school, Russell clerked for Gibbs & Cox, a marine architectural firm, and then served in the Army Air Corps, fulfilling his strong desire to fly. As for so many of his generation, World War II became a defining experience. Russell was shot down over France on his 38th mission, crashed landed his P-47 Thunderbolt in a farm field and had the presence of mind to place his pistol in the hands of the farmer who was trying to save him. The Luftwaffe captured Russell and spared the farmer’s life.
Russell was held in Stalag Luft III until the camp was force-marched in a blizzard, loaded into boxcars and taken to Stalag VII. Not a day passed in all his years that Russell did not think of the men left behind on that winter march. Patton himself came to Stalag VII and, after being liberated and transported, Russell witnessed the passing of the limousines carrying Marshall Montgomery and General Eisenhower to the signing of the armistice.
In 1948, Russell married Joan Hageman, whom he had met in a church youth group three years prior. Russell and Joan joined many veteran families in Levittown, N.Y. There they met and made life-long friends. Russell earned his B.S. at Hofstra University on the G.I. Bill and explored a variety of professions, eventually becoming an investment broker on the East End of Long Island. The Mann family moved to Southold, N.Y., in 1959.
Russell was an active member of civic life on the East End. As a veteran, the American Legion was important to him and he served as commander for many years. He was a founding member of the Southold Yacht Club and served as commodore in its early years. He served as board chair for the First Universalist Church of Southold, helping it through transition from dormancy through vital membership in the Unitarian Universalist Association. In all these endeavors, Russell’s organized and industrious nature oversaw vast numbers of benefit events and organizational efforts.
In the 1960s, Russell happily revived his thespian interests at the North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck, but, perhaps of all his interests, catching bluefish and striped bass in Plum Gut gave him the most joy. His and Joan’s love of being on the water inspired them to make numerous distance trips with fellow boaters, resulting in many stories — exciting, humorous and sometimes harrowing. And good fortune allowed them to live 23 years on the beautiful shores of Peconic Bay. In later years, Russell traveled extensively abroad with Joan and they made many domestic journeys to yearly reunions of P-47 pilots.
Russell leaves behind Joan, his wife of 71 years; his four children and their spouses: Jacqueline and Edmund Zeneski, Deborah and Phill Smith, David Mann, and Allison Mann and John Lewis; four grandchildren and their spouses: Gregory and Doreen Zeneski, Gerritt and Ronald Whittaker, Kathryn and Daniel Lillis, and Evan Lewis; and four great-grandchildren: Abigail and Finley Whittaker, and Daniel and Evelyn Lillis.
There will be a celebration of Russell’s life at Peconic Landing Library Friday, Aug. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m., with a Legionnaire’s ceremony at 3 p.m. Donations in memory of Russell Mann can be made to the American Legion, Griswold-Terry-Glover Post 803, in Southold, N.Y.
This is a paid notice.