Cover photo for Russell Rathje Schultz's Obituary
Russell Rathje Schultz Profile Photo
1937 Russell 2023

Russell Rathje Schultz

July 16, 1937 — January 25, 2023

Russell Rathje Schultz, 85, of Grand Island, NE passed away on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at the Heritage at Sagewood. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 AM on February 1, 2023 at Apfel Funeral Home in Grand Island with Chaplain Thayne Moore officiating. Burial will follow in the Grand Island City Cemetery. Visitation will be an hour prior to the start of the services.

Russ was born on July 16, 1937, in Waterbury, Connecticut, to Milton Otto and Erma Olga Rathje Schultz. Growing up, the family moved often, due to Milton’s work with the Federal Government: from Connecticut, to Washington, D.C, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, and finally Nebraska. As a youth, Russell had a fierce independent streak. His mother would often spin stories of the times he would wander off to play at construction sites or slipping away from a shopping trip and trying to catch the bus as early as age 4.

He began his elementary school education in Wichita, KS, before continuing in Lincoln, NE, and graduating from Lincoln Northeast High School. Following his father’s love of airplanes, during his teenage years, Russell would join his dad–a one time barnstormer and test pilot–on investigations of air-related incidents and would have liked to become a pilot himself.

Upon retirement, his father began farming in the Hall and Hamilton County area, and Russell would spend his weekends on the farm in between schooling. After graduating from the University of Nebraska College of Agriculture, Animal Science Department, in 1960, he began farming full time, first with his dad and his younger brother Steven, and later on his own until his health forced his retirement.

In Spring, 1968, he met Sharon J. Geisler at a Rural Youth Square Dance. They dated for about a year before getting engaged and marrying on December 20, 1969, in Grand Island, NE. They proceeded to have two children, Erik Russell in 1970, and Kurt David in 1973.

He is survived by wife, Sharon; his two children, Erik (Helen) Schultz and Kurt (LeAnn) Schultz; four grandchildren: Ashley, Emma, Conor, and Isabelle; sister-in-law, Cheryl Schultz; and nieces and nephews.

Russell was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Steven.

Russ’s family would like to thank the caregivers in the Memory Support unit at the Heritage at Sagewood and the members of the Tabitha hospice team not only for the excellent care they gave Russ but for also making our family part of your family and giving each of us your support, compassion, and love over this difficult road through life. You are very special people.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Russell Rathje Schultz, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Starts at 10:30 am (Central time)

Apfel Funeral Home - Grand Island

1123 West 2nd Street, Grand Island, NE 68801

Visitation will be and Hour Prior to the start of the service.

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