Russell Gunvalson. Submitted photo
Russell Gunvalson. Submitted photo

Russell Gunvalson, age 93 of Rochester, Minnesota, formerly of Spring Valley, died Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at his home. 

A Celebration of Life for Russell L. Gunvalson is planned for Saturday, July 29, 2017, at 11:00 AM at St. John’s Lutheran Church, S520 Church Ave, Spring Valley, Wisconsin. 

Russell died Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at home at the age of 93 years, 10 months. He was born July 11, 1923 in Spring Valley, Wisconsin to Hans Christian and Gurina (Anderson) Gunvalson. He graduated from Spring Valley High School in 1941. He worked for a time in Spring Valley until he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943. Cpl. Gunvalson was a forward artillery spotter in Battery A, 590th Field Artillery Battalion,106th Infantry Division. His location was overrun by German troops on December 19, 1944 and Russell was one of 6697 troops in the 106th captured by the Germans. 

Russell spent from December 19, 1944 to March 30, 1945 in three different prisoner of war camps in Germany. His war experiences were published in a book he wrote. Russell was a frequent guest speaker to many high school history classes in Rochester and the surrounding area. He was also regularly interviewed by students for their historical research papers. 

Russell was a member of the American ExPOW organization belonging to the Wisconsin Indianhead Chapter and a founding member of the Minnesota Hiawatha Chapter of the organization. He was a member of the ExPOWs, DAV, American Legion, and the 106th Division Association organizations at the time of his death. 

On April 23, 1947 he married Idelle E. Larson at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Spring Valley, Wisconsin. They made their home in Spring Valley where Russ was a clerk in the Post Office and became a rural carrier until his retirement in 1977. In 1985 Russ and Idelle moved to Rochester, Minnesota. Russ ran a busy handyman business in Rochester until 1996. Mrs. Gunvalson died in 2013. 

Russ is survived by their two children; daughter Deborah and Paul Norrie, Rochester; and, J. Todd and Marjorie of Elgin, South Carolina; grandchildren, Jonathan and Katherine Norrie, Northfield; Andrew and Felicity Norrie, Rochester; Julie and Jim Shiver, Elgin SC; and TJ and Gwen Lanaghan, Acworth, GA; great-grandchildren, Emmett and Wyatt Norrie; Eleanor and Amelia Norrie; CJ and Sarah Geyer, Kaitlyn Shiver; and, Liam, Claire, and Norah Lanaghan.  He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. 

Russell was preceded in death by Idelle, his parents, four sisters and three brothers. 

The family suggests memorials to the St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery. 

The family also thanks the caregivers of Comfort Home Heath Agency for the loving care they took of Russell; the staff of Shorewood Senior Living for their friendship and support; and the staff of Seasons Hospice who made his last months comfortable.