Russell Gordon PankOn Christmas morning, Russell Gordon Pank, formerly of Superior, completed his journey on earth surrounded by his wife, youngest daughter and grandson.
On Christmas morning, Russell Gordon Pank, formerly of Superior, completed his journey on earth surrounded by his wife, youngest daughter and grandson. He passed away at his daughter’s home in Hermitage, Tenn.
Russell began his journey in Superior, Wis. on Nov. 11, 1922, as the third son born to Frank and Clara Pank. Except for one year in Marion, Wis. where he lived with his Aunt Bob and Uncle Harold Wagoner, he would remain near Superior until 1942. During that time, he graduated from Central High School Class of 1940 and won the Golden Gloves.
Then in 1942, he received a call from his older brother, Robert, telling him about a job on a freighter. Following Robert’s example, he went to Buffalo, N.Y. and joined the Merchant Marines. He sailed on the Great Lakes until 1943 when he first sailed salt water shipping out on a Liberty ship from New York that carried materiel for the Army in Casablanca. Returning to New York, he was asked to do the Murmansk Run. Being “a dumb kid,” he said yes and began the run known for its high casualties. His convoy safely made the run and he returned to New York where he shipped to England and the Mediterranean. He would then go to the South Pacific where he took part in the liberation of the Philippines, as did his brother Robert. His ship was hit by a kamikaze while in the Leyte Gulf. Although several of the soldiers standing by Russell were killed and he was injured, the ship survived. Sadly, Robert was killed in action one month later when the John E. Burke, carrying ammunition, was hit by a kamikaze. When the war was over, Russell was part of the endeavor to bring the troops back. He left the Merchant Marines in 1946 as a second assistant engineer.
While laying over in San Francisco, Russell fell in love with Ann Fehrenbach. They were married April 26, 1945. In 1947, when their daughter was born, they returned to the Pank family farm outside of Superior. This was home when two sons and another daughter joined the family.
In 1958 Russell went to sea again sailing to the Middle East, Africa, Europe, too many water ports to name. Hating that he was away from his family, he went back to the Great Lakes in 1960 and moved his family to Midland, Mich., close to a homeport. Midland was his home for more than 40 years. He had worked his way up the ranks and had gone to the Merchant Marine Academy to earn his engineering licenses. He became a chief engineer and spent much of his career as such. He retired from the American Steamship Company in 1991 at age 69.
Russell was an avid reader especially of the daily newspapers and anything related to the Civil War and World War II. He followed sports and supported his Michigan teams no matter what their record. He loved to travel, but was happy to return home to enjoy the beautiful gardens planted by Ann. He joined with his church, the Midland Seventh-day Adventist Church, to help in their outreach programs.
Russell is survived by his wife Ann Fehrenbach Pank; daughters Cynthia Ann Pank and Deborah Jean Pank Trask; sons Gordon Lee (Denny) Pank and Robert Dale Pank; grandson John Gordon Trask; niece Linda Pank Byrka; and nephews John Pank, Donald Pank and Arthur Pank.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Clara Witness Pank and Frank Pank, his brothers Francis Pank, Robert Pank and Herbert Pank.
Once again, he is setting out for a destination unknown to those left behind. He is gone from our eye, but he remains in our hearts.
Friends and family are invited to sign the guest book at http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx?n=Russell-Pank&lc=2351&pid=155234235&mid=4935372. Memorial services are pending.