05 Feb Obituary: Rev. Russ Birdsall: Missionary, Dean, Pastor
Rev. Russell Birdsall, 93, passed away Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at his home in Huntington, Ind. He was a United Brethren missionary in Sierra Leone, Dean of Students at Huntington University, a UB pastor in Huntington, fulltime superintendent of Central Conference, short-term UB missionary in Macau for a number of terms…and beloved by everyone who knew him.
A funeral service will be at 11 am Saturday, February 13, at College Park UB church in Huntington, Ind. Dr. Ray Seilhamer will officiate. Visitation will be available 3-7pm on Friday, February 12, at the Bailey-Love Mortuary in Huntington (35 West Park Drive).
Russ grew up in a United Brethren preacher’s home, a son of Rev. Stanley Birdsall. He and Nellie, his wife of nearly 70 years, met at Huntington University and were married in 1951. He graduated from HU in 1953, and was ordained in 1957 after graduating from the HU seminary.
On September 4, 1957, Russ, Nellie, and their young daughter, Sharon, boarded a ship for Sierra Leone, where they served as UB missionaries for the next 11 years.
In July 1968, the family returned to Huntington at the request of Dr. DeWitt Baker, another former Sierra Leone missionary, so Russ could become dean of students. He did that until 1976, followed by two years as director of church relations for the college.
In 1979, Russ began ten years as pastor of New Hope UB church in Huntington, Ind., followed by three years, 1990-1993, as fulltime superintendent of Central Conference.
Between 1994 and 2006, Russ and Nellie served seven times in Macau as short-term missionaries, always going at their own expense. They taught in the English Language Program, conducted Bible studies, and provided pastoral care for the other missionaries.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Bailey-Love Mortuary in Huntington.