(July 23, 2009)
Russell A. Floan, 86, a Billings native who returned here a year ago to live, died Thursday, July 23 of cancer. He was the third of four children of Alfred and Eunice (Ackelmire) Floan. His parents moved while he was a toddler to Gardiner, where his family had longtime ties with Yellowstone Park; and then to Powell, where they owned a grocery store and where he was graduated from high school.
Russ was proudest of his service to his country during World War II. A student at the University of Montana at the war's outbreak, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was trained as a radio/radar man and assigned to the crew of the USS Harrison (DD 573), then under construction at Orange, Texas. As a member of the crew at launch and commissioning, he was a "plank owner" of the ship. He served aboard Harrison in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific, earning seven battle participation stars. In the fall of 1944, he was selected for the Navy's V-5 commissioning program and was attending the NROTC program at the University of Minnesota on VJ day.
After discharge, he was graduated from the University of Wyoming. He taught high school math in Gillette, where he met and married Eva R. Lepine. They moved to Tucson, Ariz., where Russ attended Arizona State University, and then to high school teaching posts in Flagstaff, Ariz., and San Marino, Calif. He earned a master's degree in education from California State University at Los Angeles.
In 1957, he joined the faculty of Fullerton Community College in California as a math teacher. He later became a counselor and, finally, the Associate Dean of Admissions and Records and Registrar. He retired from the college in 1985.
Russ is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth Cornelius and Christina (Stephen) Volek, both of Billings; his much-loved grandson, granddaughter-by-marriage and great-grandchildren, John, Mayra, Tayra and Jaythen Russell Cornelius, all of Billings; his sister, Mary Elizabeth Bever of Powell; and a dozen nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 49 years, Eva; his parents; and his brothers Donald and Kenneth Floan.
He will be buried later with his wife in California.