Russell Morgan Spence Sr

January 24, 1937 ~ December 27, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Russell Morgan Spence Sr Obituary


A gathering of family and friends will begin at 11:00 a.m., followed by lunch ending at 2:00 p.m., on Tuesday, January 2, 2024, at the River Falls American Legion Post 121, located at 701 N Main St. in River Falls.

An additional memorial service will be held in Minneapolis on Wednesday, January 3, 2024, at 2 p.m. at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 S Knox Ave S.

Russ passed away peacefully at age 86, at his home on his farm in

Gilman Township, Spring Valley, WI December 27, 2023, with family by his side.

Russell Morgan Spence was born in Amboy, MN on January 24, 1937, to Vernon George & Eunice Marian Spence (Fisk). They moved to Spring Valley, WI where he farmed as a boy, while attending a one-room grade school. Russ often bragged about how he skipped the 3rd grade, but usually fessed-up that it was only because there were just 2 students in that grade. He convinced his parents to let him enlist early in the army at 17, becoming a paratrooper in the 11th and 101st Airborne Divisions, stationed in Munich. He returned to Spring Valley, where in 1959 he eloped to Iowa with his high school crush, Mary Josephine Richardson, after persuading her to break off an engagement. They moved to River Falls, WI, where he graduated from college. They then moved to St. Paul, MN, where they started their family while Russ worked days and went to evening law school at William Mitchell College of Law. He then joined a Minneapolis law firm as an investigator, working his way up to becoming a named partner at Meshbesher & Spence, Ltd. There, Russ started and built a successful PI practice, mentoring many fine trial attorneys, connecting with juries and winning record recoveries for his clients. After Mary Jo passed away in 1994, Russ reevaluated life’s priorities. He later married Laurel Anne McGraw, continuing to build his blended family, enjoying travels to 31 different countries, family gatherings and the fruits of his labors for the next 27 years.

Russ enjoyed time farming at his Spring Valley "hobby" farm, where he helped and worked with many family and friends, old and new. Although he wore 3-piece suits in court, he never forgot how to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty doing an honest, long-day’s work. He was an avid golfer and long-time hunter, which even took him to Wyoming and Colorado for horseback ride-in excursions with cherished friends. He enjoyed time in Scottsdale, the Twin Cities, at Balsam Lake and of course, his farm. Russ will long be remembered as an engaging, caring, generous and authentic man, who was a great storyteller. He successfully challenged himself, and those around him, overcoming many obstacles along the way. Paraphrasing Frank Sinatra, "he did it [his] way!"

Russ was preceded in death by his parents, first wife Mary Jo, brothers Vernon and Wayne Spence, sister Evelyn Vanasse, sister-in-law Anita Spence, brothers-in-law David and Don Richardson, David Reese, and granddaughter, Monica Josephine Spence. He is survived by wife Laurel Spence, son Russell "Mick" Spence, Jr. (Darran), daughters Suzanne and Claire Spence, stepdaughter Sophie Callahan (Jared) and their sons Jet and Milo, grandchildren Sophia, Griffin and Russell Spence III, as well as many, many in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Celebrations of life will be held on Tues. January 2, 2024, from 11 AM-2 PM at the American Legion, 701 N. Main St., River Falls, WI and Wed.

January 3rd, 2-4 PM at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church, 5025 Knox Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN. Private interment at Gilman Lutheran Church, Spring Valley, WI.

In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to Gilman Lutheran Church T/home or Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers


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