Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon News
February 9, 2013 8:32 am EST


ORLANDO, Fla. — Russell Howard Behner died Feb. 5, 2013, in Orlando, Fla., seven days after his 92nd birthday. He was there at the invitation of his daughter Marjorie for an extended visit in her home in Apopka.

Born Jan. 29, 1921, in Oberlin, to Benjamin and Ethel Behner (Opdyke), Russell is survived by three devoted children, Marjorie Behner-Sands of Apopka, Kathleen Behner (Dr. David Powell) of Chicago, Ill., and Howard Behner of Howard; two granddaughters, Lindsey and Cassandra Sands. He is also survived by three of his four siblings, Wayne Behner (Dottie) of Danville, Charles Behner (Nancy) of Apopka, Fla. and Doris Goronzy of Fredericktown.

Russell’s beloved wife, Ethel Behner (Cole) preceded him in death August 2011. A loving younger sister, Donna Porco (Setty) of Rocklin, Calif., preceded Russell in death.

After graduating from Mount Vernon Academy in 1940, Russell served in the U.S. Army as a medic, traveling to many countries including Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. The memories of his World War ll adventures stayed with him throughout his long life. Friends, family, or any captive audience, remember well and recall how he regaled them with his experiences and adventures in the South Pacific.

After completion of military service he returned to LaGrange where he started a dairy farm. In 1947, he married his wife Ethel from New York City. They first met while both attended Mount Vernon Academy.

In 1969, Russell sold his 200-acre dairy farm and moved his family from LaGrange to Mount Vernon, his home for the remainder of his life. During his post-farming years, he worked for City Laundry of Mount Vernon, holding positions in maintenance and also as a truck driver.

Russell had a mechanical bent and passion for fixing old motors and was frequently found fixing broken down farm equipment. A private pilot, he enjoyed refurbishing his Cessna airplane and another pet project: Restoring a 1921 Model T Ford. It’s subsequent owner has a family connection.

He was a lifelong member of the Seventh-day Adventist church with a consuming belief and faith in his church and his Lord.

Russell lived for many years with Type ll diabetes and its effects. The family hope that one day there will be a cure for this devastating condition. In the interest of supporting that goal, the family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations honoring his memory be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 11454, Alexandra, VA 22312 (1-800-DIABETES).

A memorial service will be held Friday, Feb. 15, at 11 a.m. at Dilley-Lasater Funeral Home in Mount Vernon. A private graveside service will take place in Mount Vernon Memorial Gardens.

To express a condolence or share a memory with the Behner family, visit

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