Obituary of Diana Sweet Russell
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GENEVA– Reverend Diana S. Russell passed away in her home on Wednesday, April 12, 2023. Her passing, four weeks short of her 90th birthday, was the next step in her full life. Her life and ministry were a blessing for many in our communities. Born Diana Sweet Griffiths in Danielson, CT on May 10, 1933, the fifth child of Nelson M. and Helen E. Griffiths, Diana spent her childhood on a dairy farm, where she learned her love of family, dedication to work, and the joys of gardening. Always an avid singer and reader, her faith developed through her involvement at the Line Baptist Church. She journeyed from CT to the Philadelphia, PA area to attend college at Baptist Institute. She met her future husband, Charles E. Russell, in the Summer of 1953 while working at a summer church camp. They were married in June 1956. Their early married life started on the Griffiths' family farm in CT, but work carried them to Estacada, OR, Bedford, IN, and finally to a farm of their own near Marengo, NY. The farm on Clyde-Marengo Road allowed Diana to raise acres of vegetable and flower gardens while raising her growing family. She also contributed to her community of Clyde, NY by serving as a Girl Scout leader, pre-school teacher and other endeavors. Diana was called to ministry at the Clyde United Methodist Church in 1964 as the Christian Education Director. She led a variety of children and youth programs from Sunday school, youth musicals, youth fellowship and after-school Christian education. Many remember her doughnut sales and dinner programs to support youth programs. Her love of music and gifted voice lifted many as part of adult choir, director of children and youth choirs, and as song leader. Notable efforts included the initiation of summer youth safari trips, interdenominational summer day camps, and numerous programs for United Methodist Women. Diana was the force that developed the Together at Church programs that brought families to the church mid-week for a meal and a program. She went beyond her local church to teach mission and Christian education events at numerous churches around the area. Diana received her call to an expanded role in pastoral ministry in 1984. Rev. Diana became a Licensed Local Pastor and, after five years of study at Wesley United Methodist Seminary in Washington, DC and further college coursework to receive a bachelor's degree from Empire State College, she was ordained an Associate Member in 1997. Rev. Diana served as pastor at United Methodist Churches in Fosterville, NY, Auburn, NY, Rose, NY, and Lock Berlin, NY. Rev. Diana's ministry was highlighted by unique services and meals, ecumenical outreach, hymn sings, and community support. Her focus was making a connection with individuals that brought them closer to God. Rev. Diana was also involved with directing local weekend Christian programs for both The Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis experiences. After retiring from the United Methodist Church in 1999, Rev. Diana settled in Geneva on Pre-emption Road, where her gardens were a striking addition to the neighborhood. However, Rev. Diana's retirement was short-lived when she immediately answered God's call to further pastoral leadership at the Congregational Church in Savannah, NY and later the Presbyterian Church in Oaks Corners, NY. Challenges with her hearing prompted Rev. Diana to retire again from pastoral leadership after over 35 years of service. Her long-time bible study, curtailed by COVID, was a cherished area of teaching and friendship that continued her leadership of Christian education. Diana will be remembered for her dedication to daily devotions, the numerous lives that she helped and guided through her lifelong witness to Christ, and the loving home she provided. She will be missed for her welcoming smile, personal warmth, delicious baked goods, beautiful gardens, and hosting of family gatherings, including cooking lessons and games with grandchildren. Rev. Diana cared for all and shared her home with many seeking shelter, family, and fellowship. Diana is survived by her five children, Charlanne (Duane) Bittinger of Clyde, NY, Jeffery Russell of Springfield, VA, Allen (Sue) Russell of Attica, NY, Sarah (Jeremy) Ornstein of Springfield, VA and Eliza Russell of Charlotte, NC; her brother, David (Sue) Griffiths of Danielson, CT. Grandma Diana is also survived by her seven beloved grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A memorial service to celebrate the life of Diana S. Russell will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, (June 17) at the Seneca Falls United Methodist Church. Flowers will be welcome as part of this service or memorial gifts may be given to Wesley Seminar (www.wesleyseminary.edu) or Asbury Retreat Center (www.asburyuny.org).To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Diana Russell, please visit Tribute Store
Saturday, June 17, 2023
Seneca Falls United Methodist Church
2 Chapel Street
Seneca Falls, New York, United States
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In Loving Memory
1933 - 2023
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