Junellia Russell

Junellia Jane Russell, 92, of Winfield, passed away March 8, 2018, at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.  

Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 15, 2018, at Miles Funeral Service in Winfield. Interment will follow in Highland Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The family will greet visitors from 5 to 7. Online condolences can be made at www.milesfuneralservice.com.

Memorials are to the Junellia Russell Memorial. Our family tradition is to establish a memorial with the Winfield Public Library to benefit the entire community. Contributions can be made through the funeral home.

Born Junellia Jane Phillips on Aug. 14, 1925, outside Harrison, Ark. at her grandfather Stephen Douglas Johnson’s farm, Lick Branch, she was born in the same room where her mother Ruey Lea Johnson had been born. Her father, Harold Nixon Phillips, was an oil well driller and worked all over Kansas and Oklahoma during the oil boom. When they started a family, they chose Winfield. Harold and Ruey quickly settled into the small town church and social scene. Junellia attended First Methodist Church on Millington Street, Lowell Elementary School and Winfield High School, graduating in 1943.

She was a happy child and always singing around the house. She had wonderful teachers and always credited them for recognizing her talent and giving her the proper training and encouragement, shaping her young voice and giving her the experience and confidence for the rest of her life. 

Her early experience was singing sacred solos at First United Methodist Church in Winfield, and at other local churches as guest soloist. Her teachers sent her to various service organizations and social clubs in Winfield to perform programs for their meetings. She gave many recitals, worked on the school newspaper and appeared in high school musical productions. Upon graduation in 1943, she went to work at Strother Field in civil service to aid in the war effort and was transferred with a group of her friends to Brownsville, Texas. As the war wound down, she returned to Winfield and married her high school sweetheart when he came home from the war.

Junellia and Leonard Ross Russell were married Feb. 17, 1946, in Winfield. They had three boys, Leonard Bruce, William Bevin and Stephen Benet, and spent 32 years in military service stationed in many states, the territory of Hawaii and Western Germany.

In each location they found themselves, she always made new friends and learned interesting things about the local culture, folklore, comparative religions, hula dancing, ukulele, cake decorating, candle making, costume making and ceramics. She always sang, first at her own church services where she made sure her boys also participated in the choirs, then as a paid soloist at other area churches, notably The Submarine Chapel of the Pacific at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for the four years they were stationed right next door at Hickham AFB, and three years at the first Church of Christian Scientist in Montgomery, Ala., when they were stationed at Maxwell AFB.

She always said her greatest accomplishment was her three boys. She was proud of her three boys, with their individual attitudes, outlooks, aptitudes, personalities, interests and talents. She always enabled them to get to whatever activity, lesson, club meeting, sport or summer program they were engaged in, often waiting in the car to bring them back home. She always remained interested in what things they were pursuing, always encouraging, always supportive, and enjoyed it when they would take the time to share with her their thoughts and experiences.

Junellia loved learning new things and often said “we live in interesting times.” Active in genealogy, she researched the many branches of the Russell and Phillips family tree, fascinated with the history and what the ancestors had to endure to finally succeed. She belonged to and contributed research to several historical societies: Cowley County, Boone County, Ark., Carroll County, Ark., and The Shiloh Museum of Ozark History and its photo archives in northwest Arkansas.

Junellia  was one of the oldest lady “ham” radio operators in Kansas. 

She first took on the challenge of learning electronic theory, the regulations, the procedures and the Morse code in order to help Leonard, whose health had begun to make it difficult to participate in the hobby he loved. She successfully passed all the elements required to become an FCC licensed amateur radio operator and later even upgraded to a higher level license. 

She was a member in good standing of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service, trained as emergency communicator, volunteering personal time, skill and equipment to serve in the public interest. She enjoyed the Cowley County Amateur Radio Club, helping to provide communications in severe weather, to aid in the organization of local parades, marathons, special events and field days. The entire family, including daughters-in-law, were ham radio operators. 

People loved to chat with Junellia and share their day. She was a pleasant voice on the air and you could almost hear the smile. She kept in touch with her boys: Bevin when mobile on his way to branch offices; Bruce, on his way to work, would check in to say hello and chat about her day and things he had read before he had to “get on the clock”; and Ben would keep in touch, especially when at the Winfield Lake, to keep up on weather conditions.

Junellia was a member of VFW Auxiliary, American Legion Auxiliary, the Air Force Sergeants Association, Amateur Radio Relay League, Young Ladies Radio Relay League, Quarter Century Wireless Association and the Cowley County Amateur Radio Club. 

When Leonard retired they returned to Winfield, the place they had always called home. In recent years, Junellia had been residing at Winfield Rest Haven.

Junellia was preceded in death by her sister, Jennis; her husband, Leonard; her son, Bevin; and her grandson, Sean.

Junellia is survived by her sons, Bruce and Benet; daughters-in-law, Jo and Pam; grandsons, Seth Benet (Rachel), Koby Andrew (Rebecca) and John Bevin; and great-granddaughters, Natalie Ann and Annika Benet.