Russell (“Russ”) Bernard Rac passed away Tuesday, October 11th in Galveston surrounded by his family. He was 81. Born on the Island (BOI) June 15, 1930, Russ will long be remembered for his love of sports, his tenacity for fundraising for his favorite causes, and his generosity towards helping others.
He graduated from Ball High School in 1948 and was awarded a football scholarship to Rice University. Russ chose instead to play professional baseball and signed first with the Houston Buffs prior to joining the farm team of the Cardinal’s organization. Before returning to Galveston to care for his family, he had the opportunity to play winter baseball in Latin America, including playing with teams in Venezuela and Cuba. During his career as a professional baseball player, he was honored with numerous awards, including “Most Popular Player” with the Buffs, and his team won the Championship Game in the Dixie League Series. Russ retired from professional baseball with a .318 batting average.
In 1964 Russ joined ILA 1665 and worked for the Wharves until retiring in 1992. He also loved his volunteer work and enjoyed coaching Little League and Pony League baseball. While employed with the Wharves, he and his family relocated to Bayou Vista for 14 years, until they decided to move back to Galveston so his young son could attend Ball High School, his alma mater.
Once back on the Island, Russ became even more involved with fundraising and volunteer work. He would not take “no” for an answer when he asked friends to donate to his causes. And everyone knew he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. He was relentless in raising money for his favorite charities and causes, including Ball High School Booster Club, BHS Project Graduation, West Isle Disabled Baseball projects, and especially First Lutheran Church’s (his beloved home church) Oktoberfest. The family extends special thanks to all of Russ’s friends who over the years gave so generously to all of his fundraising projects.
Other favorite activities included travel–a bus trip or short drive to go gambling in Louisiana, taking a cruise, or heading out to Las Vegas to play blackjack. Russ also loved to fish, especially for flounder. Then he’d filet the flounder and give the fish away to friends, family, and to his neighbors. When not traveling or fishing, you could find him watching sports on television, especially his beloved Houston Astros (even when they were losing, he’d watch every minute of every game).
Russell is preceded in death by his parents, Martha and George Rac. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Alyce Etzel; his sons, Kevin Gernand and Russell (Rusty) Rac; his sister, Lee Gipson, and brother-in-law, Sam; sister, Lou Elfstrom; his much beloved sister-in-law, Wanda Phillips; and numerous nieces, nephews, and many, many friends.
Russell Rac’s favorite motto was: “The game is not over, till it’s over.” He will be greatly missed by all.
Russell’s family will receive visitors from 5:00 to 7:00 pm Friday, October 14, at Malloy & Son Funeral Home, 31st and Broadway. Funeral service will be at 10:00 am Saturday, October 15, at First Lutheran Church, 25th and Winnie, with Reverend Douglas C. Guthier, officiating. Burial will follow at Grace Memorial Park, Hitchcock.
Pallbearers are his nephews Marty Elfstrom, Russ Elfstrom, and Ray Elfstrom; as well as John Nash, Ronnie Trail, and Frankie Williamson. Honorary pallbearers include Charles Elfstrom, Sam Gipson, Frank Guisti, Boomer Marinelli, and Guy Taylor. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be made to First Lutheran Church, 2415 Winnie, Galveston, Texas, 77550; the Galveston Island Humane Society, 6814 Broadway, Galveston, Texas 77554; or the American Diabetes Association, 1701 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22311.