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August 16, 1944 – Saturday, March 21, 2015

Service Information
Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo
Monday, March 30, 2015
11:00 A.M.

Visitation Information
Zion Lutheran Church, Buffalo
Monday, March 30, 2015
9:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M.

Russell Emris Ilstrup

age 70 of Buffalo, passed away on March 21, 2015 at North Memorial Medical Center.

Born on August 16, 1944 in Buffalo, MN, he was the son of Emris and Emma (Knop) Ilstrup. He grew up in Buffalo and was a 1962 graduate of Buffalo High School. He then continued his education at Lutheran Bible Institute in Golden Valley and Augsburg College in Minneapolis, graduating in 1968.

Russ began his teaching career in the fall of 1968 at Milroy, MN, where he taught Business Education for nine years, served as advisor for the school newspaper and yearbook, and coached boys’ junior high basketball.

On July 14, 1973 he was united in marriage to Joan Kath at First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake. They both continued to teach at Milroy until 1977, when they moved to Monticello. Business Education positions were in short supply at that time, so Russ worked as a loan officer for Thorp Finance for a number of years. He missed teaching, though, so be began subbing in Monticello and in several surrounding school districts. Later he attended St. Cloud State University to obtain Special Education certification.

He taught Special Education at Monticello High School from 1992-97, when declining health due to diabetes prevented him from continuing to serve as a fulltime teacher. He went back to subbing for another four years, and he enjoyed the challenge of walking into a different classroom each time he arrived at school. Students loved his zany sense of humor and his ability to make lessons fun and interesting. They also knew that they would not be getting a day off if Mr. Ilstrup was their sub.

Russ was a charter member of the Milroy Lions Club and was an active member of the Monticello Lions Club for many years. He and Joan lived west of Monticello on Locke Lake for over 20 years, and his favorite pastime was fishing from his pontoon at the end of the dock.

His spiritual life was important to him. That began as a child at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo and continued for the rest of his life. He was a faithful member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Milroy, where he sang in the choir and served as a youth group advisor. At Trinity Lutheran Church in Monticello, he served on the church council and sang in the choir. When he and Joan sold their lake home in 2002 and moved to a townhouse in Buffalo, Zion Lutheran became his church home once again, and in many ways he felt that his faith had come full circle with that return to his home congregation.

Russ was preceded in death by his parents, Emris and Emma Ilstrup. He is survived by his wife, Joan of Buffalo; his brother, Duane (Diane) of Rochester, MN; and his goddaughter, Virginia DeBerry (Jim) of Midland, TX.

A gathering of family and friends will begin at 9 A.M. on Monday, March 30 at Zion Lutheran Church followed by the memorial service at 11 A.M. Inurnment will be at the church cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to the Zion Foundation, the Buffalo Chapter of Let’s Go Fishing, or the American Diabetes Association.

4 Guestbook Entries

  1. Cherie Kampa

    Russ was a wonderful man. He brought joy to everyone who met him. I remember what a great teacher and colleague he was.

  2. Kris Gildersleeve

    In my mind’s eye, Mr. Ilstrup will always be singing in the choir and enjoying making people smile. He had a great one and and an infectious laugh, as well. So sorry for your loss.

  3. William and Mary Caldwell, Clearwater, Florida

    Dear Joan and Duane, you both have been in our thoughts in the past days, and we offer our sincere condolences for your loss of Russell. We can only wish that we could lift you, in this time of heartache and sorrow, with perfect words of sympathy for your loss of a husband and a brother. Please let your loving and fond memories of Russell keep you both company in the coming times.

  4. Daniel R. Shogren

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family…dan


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