Visitation will be held from 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM with a 7:00 PM prayer service on Thursday, September 27, 2018 at Johnson Funeral Service in Thief River Falls, MN. Visitation will also be held one hour prior to the service on Friday at Oak Park Lutheran Church.
Russell Leonard Culkins was born April 9, 1932 in Pennington County, Thief River Falls, MN the son of Patrick W. and Ruth Andrea (Larson) Culkins. He was baptized into the Lutheran faith and confirmed as an adult at Clearwater Lutheran Church, north of Plummer, MN. Russ attended country school, St. Hilaire Elementary and graduated from Lincoln High School with the class of 1950.
On January 3, 1952 Russ entered into service with the United States Air Force. He was primarily stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base as well as two tours to Great Britain. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. Russ was Honorably Discharged on January 2, 1956. He returned to the family farm south of Thief River Falls and went to work at Land-O-Lakes.
In 1957, at a dance at Smiley Hall, Russ met his future wife Thelma Jean Nelson. The couple was married on June 14, 1958 at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Grygla, MN. To this union three children were born Kevin, Brian and Lynne. They made their home in Thief River Falls for a short time before moving to his grandparent’s farm, Jonas & Laura Larson. In the fall of 1963 they purchased a farm in Smiley Township, Pennington County where they resided until 1974. In 1975 the family built their home along Smiley Bridge Road where they have continued to reside.
Russ worked at different companies in the Thief River Falls area including City Dairy, Peterson Biddick, Grundy’s Office Supply, Eddy’s Bakery Delivery and Border Drug. In 1967 Russ and Thelma became self-employed and started a business called Culkins Caged Layers and during this period Russ also worked as a Field Representative for the National Farmers Organization. A few years later the couple found their earthly calling as independent contractors for Shaklee (doing business as R & T Sales), which continues to the present. Russ also continued to be watchful for other business opportunities to feed his entrepreneurial spirit.
Music was a passion for Russ; he played guitar, sang and had his own band called Russ Culkins and the Rythmaires playing…“old time, new time, rock ’n roll anytime!” He also enjoyed travel, bald eagle art, telling jokes, networking, schmoozing, telling of tall tales, was an avid reader and loved spending time with family and friends.
Russ was a member of Oak Park Lutheran Church rural Oklee, MN where he held various offices. He also held memberships with Rotary Club, American Legion Post 117, Eagle’s Club, and the NFO.
Survivors include his loving wife of 60 years Thelma of Thief River Falls; children Kevin (Wendy) Culkins of Thief River Falls, Brian (Marcia) Culkins of Otsego, MN and Lynne (Kenneth) Law of Grand Prairie, TX; grandchildren Jonas Culkins and Megan (DJ) Earls; Thelma’s family; and many other family and friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents; grandparents Jonas & Laura Larson and Thomas & Elizabeth Culkins; and brothers Donald, Sidney and Randall.