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Russell Earnest Trentlage
June 22, 2023
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Russell Earnest Trentlage, 84, passed away peacefully at home June 22, 2023. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1938 to Grace (Thompson) and Russell Trentlage and joined his older sister Nancy (Trentlage) Hoffman in completing the family. When Russ was about a year old, the family moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where he attended school and eventually graduated from University of Minnesota, Duluth. Even as a young child, Russ was always tearing things apart to see how they worked or building them. Always a hard worker, he had many jobs, including a lawn mowing business, TV repairman and when he went to college he became a bakery truck driver and set director for KDAL TV simultaneously while attending classes! He began his bakery deliveries at 4 a.m., attended classes and finished his floor directing job at 2 a.m. He survived with very little sleep! Russ’s father had said a job was to be his primary goal and his mother said an education was. Fortunately, he enjoyed both school and work, so he was able to make everyone happy! Russ graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in geological engineering but was still too young at the age of 20 to get big oil companies to hire him. He decided to take a test with the Air Force and as a result was selected for flight school as a navigator and officer. Russ and Margie Sigel became engaged about this time, and because he got lonely in Waco, Texas, where he was going through navigation school, they advanced the wedding date several months and were joined in holy matrimony Dec. 26, 1961. Upon graduation, he was offered Electronic Warfare Officer School in Rancho Cordova, California, where they spent a year and their first daughter, Lorri, was born. Russ then got a job with Reserve Mining Company in Silver Bay on the shore of Lake Superior as a research engineer where he received several promotions quickly. Their youngest daughter, Jill, came along about the time he was reassigned to general foreman, a job that required him to work a rotating schedule that was not a good fit for the young family. Russ decided to take a job with Pacific Power and Light (WIDCO) as processing superintendent for the coal mine project in Centralia, Washington, where he was employed for 22 years until a company buyout occurred and all upper management was replaced. He says that was the best thing that ever happened to him! At the time of the buyout, he was 50 years old and told Margie that he didn’t know what he was going to do for the next 15 years because he didn’t want to relocate again. When he asked what she wanted to do, she immediately said, “open a craft store!” With a lot of research and soul searching, they opened their first store in Longview, which was initially called Ben Franklin Crafts, in 1991. The 26,000-square-foot store soon went through a name change and a separation from the Ben Franklin franchise, becoming Crafts Galore! They then opened their second store in Centralia and ran the stores until their retirement in 2004. They loved their employees and all of their customers. It was truly a dream job for them! Russ had many interests over the years, including being an active member and president of the Centralia Rotary Club, elder at the Harrison Square Presbyterian Church, ham radio, raising beefalo, flying radio controlled airplanes, boating, attending his grandchildren’s sporting events, taking them fishing and relaxing at Cascade Peaks in his later years. He and Margie created many fond memories and friendships while camping at “The Peaks.” He got such pleasure from his gardens and animals. There was rarely a weed to be seen in his enormous vegetable garden and it was almost a full-time job keeping his bird feeders full! Russ is survived by his wife of 61 years, Margie (Sigel); daughters, Lorri (Jeff) Speer and Jill (Gene) Potter; four grandchildren, Jacki (Chad) Jewell, Steven (Courtney) Speer, Brady Potter and Emily (Conner) Blake; five great-grandchildren, Kennadee, Cohen, Kacey, Callan and Mallory; and his faithful dog, Tasha. Russ lived a full life and felt blessed in so many ways. Please join us at the Harrison Square Presbyterian Church for a celebration of Russ’s life at 1 p.m. Aug. 12, 2023. In Lieu of flowers, please consider sending donations to the Lewis County Animal Shelter, 560 Centralia Alpha Road, Chehalis, WA, 98532, or the Harrison Square Presbyterian Church, 1227 Harrison Ave., Centralia, WA, 98531