The Rev. Russell Proffitt, 80, of Cedar Rapids, formerly of Lisbon, died Friday, June 14, 2013, at The Woodlands, The Meth-Wick Community, Cedar Rapids. A memorial service for Russ was held June 26 at First Presbyterian Church of Mount Vernon, by the Rev. Lori Wunder. His body was donated to the deeded body program at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
Russ was born in Davenport, on Jan. 28, 1933, the son of Woodville Joseph and Winona Blair Proffitt. He attended Davenport public schools, graduating from Davenport Central in 1950, and received a B.A. from Park University, Parkville, Mo., in 1955 and a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, N.J., in 1958. Russ married Constance Koning in Davenport on Sept. 3, 1954.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years; four wonderful children and their spouses and nine grandchildren: Elizabeth (Carl) Proffitt Riechers, Russell, Victoria and Daniel Riechers, all of Lisbon; Joseph “Jay” (Helen) Proffitt, Abraham, Isaac and Rachel Proffitt all of Solon; Carole (Jeffrey) Proffitt Frazee Chance and Dennis (Rita) Frazee, Manhattan, Mont.; Russell (Angela) Proffitt Jr., and Logan Proffitt, Beaman; a sister, Mildred (Dean) Taylor of Davenport; a sister-in-law, Jane Koning of Oconomowoc, Wis.; plus many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, three brothers and a sister.
He served churches in Poughkeepsie and Fredonia, N.Y., and served numerous pulpits in New York and Iowa. He was involved in migrant ministries in western New York. He directed community action agencies, Chautauqua Opportunities Inc. in Chautauqua County, N.Y., and the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) in Cedar Rapids, served on the National Association of Community Action Agency Directors national board, directed the Heritage Agency in Cedar Rapids and served on the National Association of Area Agency on Aging Directors national board.
Russ sang in the Princeton Touring Choir and in church choirs from high school through retirement. He was an active volunteer in many community activities, advocating for families in poverty and the elderly. He started church basketball leagues in Poughkeepsie and Fredonia for high school youth and, along with his wife, was instrumental in starting the Right to Read program for adult illiterates in Cedar Rapids. He encouraged the development of the local Alzheimer’s Association Chapter, worked on the Patient and Family Services committee for the National Kidney Foundation of Iowa, chaired the emergency food distribution program for Linn County and was involved in many collaborative programs between human services agencies at the local, state and national levels, including helping to start the statewide case management program for the frail and vulnerable elderly. He was privileged to testify before the national, state and county officials on behalf of the poor and elderly. He was very honored to be an Olympic Torch Bearer, as a Community Hero in 1996.
In lieu of flowers, memorials in Russ’s honor may be given to First Presbyterian Church, Mount Vernon; Alzheimer’s Association of ECI; National Kidney Foundation of Iowa, Older Iowans Fund of The Heritage Agency; and The Meth-Wick Foundation.