Russell Spencer

IRON RIVER – Russell L. “Pug” Spencer, 85, of Iron River, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at the Iron River Care Center.

He was born April 3, 1928, in Iron River, the son of the late Russell Spencer and Gerta (Hautamaki) Kosky. He attended the Iron River schools, graduating from Iron River High School with the class of 1946. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran of World War II. Following his honorable discharge, Russell returned to Iron River and was employed as a miner by M.A. Hanna Mining Co. at the Wauseca Mine until its closure. He then worked for MSHA (Mine Safety Health Administration) in Pennsylvania and New York, returning to Michigan to work for OSHA for four-and-a-half years. He later worked for MSHA out of Marquette as a resident inspector at the White Pine Mine. Prior to his retirement in July 1993, he worked for eight years as a special investigator and traveled six states in the course of his work. He also served as vice president of the MSHA Union.

Russell married the former Donna Schaal on June 16, 1951, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and the couple made their home in Iron River. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary this year.

He was a member of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Iron River, where he served as secretary and deacon, American Legion Alfred Branchini Post 17, and honorary member of the Iron River Fire Department. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and especially trapping.

He was preceded in death by three sons, Russell William, Jacob August and Dane Robert Spencer; stepfather, Joel Kosky; brother-in-law, Charles Dennis; sister-in-law, Mary Lou Dennis; and niece, Denice Dennis.

Russell is survived by his wife, Donna; daughter, Donnalee (David) Carlson of Caspian; three grandchildren, Carrie Ann (Gardener II) Bess, Michelle Lee (Tyler) Chernach and Michael David Carlson; four great-grandchildren, Tessa Daugherty, Gardener Bess III, Russell Gardener Bess and Braylee Mae Chernach; and nephews, Charles (Reinelle) Dennis, James (Sandy) Dennis and Duane (Gretchen) Dennis.

Visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Iron River. Members of the Iron County Firemen’s Association will Pass in Review during the visitation.

Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. at the church with Pastor Joel Fleischer to officiate.

Interment will be in Resthaven Cemetery in Iron River in the spring.

Condolences may be expressed to the family of Russell L. Spencer online at

Funeral arrangements by the Jacobs Funeral Home of Iron River.