Martha Leone Noble Russell

Loving wife, mother and grandmother 

Martha Leone Noble Russell of Claremont died on April 22, 2015 at Pomona Valley Hospital. She was 93 years old.   

She was born on April 21, 1922 in Riceville, Iowa, the youngest child of Floyd A. Noble and Martha Mosher Noble. She was called Leone by friends and relatives most of her life. She loved music, played the clarinet and delighted in the old hymns of the church.

Leone attended Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois and earned a teacher’s certificate. While at Greenville College she met her future husband, Charles Mervin Russell from Miami, Florida. They were married in 1942 in Riceville, Iowa where Leone was teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. She served as a loyal pastor’s wife while Dr. Russell pastored churches in Minnesota, Illinois and Kansas.

Merv was elected to serve as general superintendent of the Free Methodist Youth, which was located in Winona Lake, Indiana. In 1963, they moved their family of three children to southern California where Dr. Russell served as president of World Gospel Crusades for 20 years. Mrs. Russell was his office manager in both positions while his work caused him to travel to 68 countries of the world. Later the Russells founded Mercy Airlift, a humanitarian program of response to major disasters in Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and Ethiopia.

After retiring, Merv and Leone lived in Baja California, Mexico for 17 years, where they flew humanitarian missions during hurricanes and floods. Upon returning to the United States, the Russells hosted National Forest campgrounds for 10 years in four different states. Dr. and Mrs. Russell moved to Claremont in 2011 to live with their daughter and son-in-law.

Martha Leone Russell was preceded in death by her son, Mervin Dean Russell, who died April 27, 2010, and her husband, Dr. Charles Mervin Russell, who died January 22, 2015. She is survived by her daughters, Joyce Landrey of Claremont and Janice Edwards of La Mesa.

She leaves six grandchildren, Deanna Wasserman of West Sacramento, Dr. Christopher Landrey of East Tawas, Minnesota, Dr. Justin Irving of Minneapolis, Minnesota, April Amoroso of Arroyo Grande, Michael Russell of Yucaipa and Jason Russell of West Sacramento. She is also survived by 15 great-grandchildren.

Her memorial will be held on Saturday, May 16 at 1:30 p.m. at the Upland Brethren in Christ Church, located at 845 W. Arrow Highway in Upland.


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