Orlando, FL Russell W Kauffman, retired Marine, volunteer for civic organizations, and a well known Santa Claus in the Orlando area, passed away on July 17 at the age of 88. A Pennsylvania native, Russ was born August 6, 1934 to Robert and Pauline (Johnson) Kauffman in a small rural community near Allentown. He began his education in a one-room school house, and attended public schools until early 1952, when, in his junior year of high school, he enlisted in the Marines. On leave after Boot Camp and infantry training, he met Jo Ann Newcomer, whose family had moved to his parents' neighborhood from the city. Russ and Jo Ann began dating and were married July 19, 1953. Russ would spend the next 22 years in the Marines, and with Jo Ann and their three children, would move a dozen times, from the East coast to the West and back again.
Russ served two tours in Vietnam and two more aboard aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean. But the highlight of his career was the 2-1/2 grueling years he spent as a drill instructor at Parris Island, South Carolina - an assignment he always regarded as a particular honor. He retired in 1974 with the rank of First Sergeant and moved to Central Florida to be near his widowed mother.
Never one to sit still, Russ took a job with Martin Marietta, earned an A. S. degree from Bob Jones University, and took an active role in organizations such as the Marine Corps League and the USMC East Coast Drill Instructors Association. But what he enjoyed most was spending time with his family. He loved the visits from his children and grandchildren, who lived in New Jersey, Maryland and Florida, and he always looked forward to family reunions held every Labor Day in Pennsylvania.
His life took an unexpected turn when a talent agent, noting his resemblance to Kenny Rogers, persuaded Russ to attend a charity function as a celebrity look-alike. He would eventually take on regular work in this way, portraying Rogers, Ernest Hemingway, and Jerry Garcia. It was a great job for a friendly and outgoing retiree, but the perfect job would come along in the early 90s, when Fashion Square Mall hired him for the role of Santa Claus. His gregarious nature - along with an expanding waistline and a flowing white beard - made him ideal for the part, and before long he was hired for the same role at Walt Disney World. He had found his calling. Russ was enormously popular as Santa, and it wasn't long before he found himself working for Universal Orlando, who put his image on their billboards and in their commercials. His work with Universal gave him a large following, and to many of his fans he really was Santa Claus. He loved bringing the joy and happiness of Christmas to children, but due to health issues he had to retire in 2010. Russ was active until his final day - distributing refreshments at church, keeping in touch with his Marine buddies, and playing his favorite role as patriarch of a growing family.
Russ spoke often of his beloved wife, Jo Ann, who preceded him in death three years earlier, and he joins her now, along with his parents and his sister, Betty Bortz. He leaves behind three children: Larry, of Orlando; Michael (Mary) of Owings, Maryland; and Kathy Hiracheta of Kissimmee. He is also survived by six grandchildren: Simon (Lisa) Hiracheta, Shannon (Aric) Johnson; Kyle, Robert, Emily, and Brian Kauffman; six great-grandchildren: Halle Galvez, Mason and Leila Johnson; Andrew, Audrey, and Hayden Hiracheta; and one great-great-grandchild, Elijah Galvez.
Russ leaves a wealth of priceless memories for a thousand or more children, young and old, of Central Florida, who will never forget the kindly old Saint Nick with the long white beard and a heart of gold.
Sam was born in August of 1926 in Shreveport, LA, and moved to Detroit in 1942. After graduating High School he was drafted into the Army during WWII and was honorably discharged in 1946. He then worked for the City of Detroit, Michigan, making his way through many positions over the years until he was eventually appointed the first Chief of Fire Operations by Mayor Coleman Young (which was later contested). After retiring from the Detroit Fire Department as the Chief of Community Relations, he moved to Flint, MI, and was appointed as the first African American Fire Chief. While heading that Department, Sam was instrumental in developing and recruiting a multitude of qualified underrepresented firefighters.
Sam was dedicated to his church, his wife, and his family. He was an ameteur golfer and avid snow skier, serving as a guide for the blind. He also enjoyed water skiing, tennis, raquetball, bridge, jazz, and travelling.
Sam earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Management from Spring Arbor College, an Executive Fire Officer degree from the National Fire Academy, and a Junior Accounting degree from the Detroit Institute of Commerce. He was a member of several community boards including the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Home for Black Children, Episcopal Editorial Board, Optimist Club of Central Detroit, Keep Detroit Beautiful, Flint Community Foundation, Board of Visitors at the National Fire Academy, Michigan Fire Chiefs, and the Michigan Fire Safety Board.
On Wednesday, June 14, 2023, God in His infinite wisdom and mercy saw that Sam had finished his assignment. He spoke softly and said, "It is done. I am well pleased. Your work here on earth is now complete. You are now invited to come home."
Sam is survived by his beloved wife Cora; daughter Miriam Dixon; sons Lance and Kevin Edmonds; Brothers Oscar, Robert, Ronald, Reggie, and Mark Barnett; sisters Shirley Briscoe and Vicky Tureaud; grandson Courtney Winston; granddaughters Tanise, Leslie, Lauren, and Alexis Edmonds; great granddaughter Mya Mitchell; and a host of relatives, friends and chirch family.
"Do not mourn my passing, but rather celebrate my life. I have gone home to be with my heavenly Father. I am at peace....rejoice in my homecoming." Sam and his ever-present smile will be missed at Post 243 and our community. May he continue to inspire others.
Buzz was born on November 16th in Royalton Township, New York to Walter and Alice (Reabolt) Bruning. He married Karen on February 9th, 1980, and they enjoyed travelling and spending time together. He was taken too early from us on February 4, 2023 and is survived by his Karen; his son Michael; his daughters Kim, Jennifer, and Victoria; and has 2 grandchildren.
His lucky dollar coins and his love of watches and clocks will be missed by many.
Thomas Grover Moon came into this world in May of 1950 at the Sanford Hospital. He was the first-born son of Jane and Tom Moon, Senior, of Oviedo, Florida. Their home was on Clark Street, within walking distance to school. Growing up, Tom enjoyed fishing, hunting and camping on the river with one of the many dogs in his life, “Shorty.” He attended the Oviedo School, the town’s K-12 public school, located where Lawton Elementary School stands today. Tom was part of the last class to graduate from that building in 1968.
After graduation, Tom enrolled at Florida Technological University, which is now the well-known University of Central Florida. He also began working locally for the automotive industry in addition to enlisting in the United States Army Reserves. After graduating from boot camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Tom came home to become a citizen soldier; serving his country and his community. He served in the Army Reserves for eight years in transportation and forty-seven years for General Motors.
Tom met his wife Marian in 1978 while square dancing, which they both loved to participate in. They were married for 43 years and are very proud of their many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. After retirement, Tom’s dream was to own a RV and travel the country. His first trip was to see his grandson graduate from Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After crowding the family into his camper there, Tom decided they needed a bigger vehicle! After purchasing their fifth-wheel, he and Marian travelled the country making memories like visiting Organ Stop Pizza in Phoenix, Arizona, home of the biggest and best pipe organ in the world. Their final trip together this summer was to the start of the mighty Mississippi River near Bemidji, Minnesota. A small, friendly town that reminded Tom & Marian of the way Oviedo used to be.
Tom is survived by his wife, Marian; his brother John; his children Steve and his wife Karen, Dan and his wife Tammy, and Paul and his significant other Donna; his grandchildren Bryan and his significant other Austin, Ryan, Jesse and Toby; and his great granddaughters Skylar and Brantlee.
Tom Moon was an integral part of Oviedo Memorial Post 243, Department of Florida, The American Legion. He was a member for 51 continuous years and followed in his father’s footsteps to serve the Post in many capacities including Adjutant, Finance Officer, and Commander from 1999 to 2001 and again from 2003 to-2006. He remained active in many of the Post’s programs helping serve the community, mentor leaders and youth, and honor fellow veterans. His knowledge of the Oviedo area and Post 243 history was instrumental in Oviedo Memorial Post 243 celebrating its 75th Anniversary last November. Comrade Moon will be dearly missed.
Our comrade, 78, departed this earth much too quickly on March 27, 2022.
During his career Master Sergeant John Bentley was assigned to the 159th Military Intelligence Company and Headquarters 151st Military Intelligence Battalion. He was a full time Army National Guard Technician at the Aviation Support Facility (AASF) #2 for many years until the facility was closed in the mid-1990s. He served in many capacities during his National Guard career including OV-1 (Mohawk) Aircraft Mechanic, OV-A Technical Observer, Infrared/Side Looking Airborne Radar Platoon Sergeant, and as a Battalion Staff Noncomissioned Offcier.
When the Aviation Support Faciity closed, John was transfered to the Combined Support Maintenance Shop (CSMS) and worked as a technician until he retired from the National Guard.
John will be remembered by many.
Our Brother peacefully made his journey back to his Creator on December 15, 2021. Ed was born on December 15, 1940 in Montpelier Indiana, the son of Guy, Sr. and Ghlee Kershner. Ed is survived by Joyce, his biggest supporter, loyal advocate and wife of 53 years. Ed was blessed with two daughters along with their spouses, and he was “Grandpa Basketball” to three grandchildren.
Ed was an active member of the United Methodist Church of Oviedo where he served on the Military Support Team providing dedicated support and honoring of active-duty military, the National Guard and Reserves, and our treasured Veterans, and he assisted in the church’s stocking of the food pantry at Oviedo High School which serves students and their families. Ed, known to most as “Coach”, touched the lives of thousands of teenagers through his career as a high school teacher and boys’ basketball coach. He taught history, drivers training and physical education. He was well regarded as an encourager and nurturer to students in his path. Ed coached for almost a decade in Indiana and for 37 years in Florida, closing his 48-year career as the winningest boys’ basketball coach in Florida high school history with a 901-377 coaching record, and two state championships. The first state title came with the legendary 37-0 Kissimmee Osceola team of 1982-83. In 2020, Ed became the first Florida coach inducted to the National High School Coaches of America Hall of Fame. He was also an inductee of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and coach, along with the Florida High School Athletic Associate Hall of Fame, the Florida Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame, and the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches Court of Legends. Ed formerly served the Florida Athletic Coaches Association as its basketball chairman, member of the board of directors and its president, and was a member of both their basketball advisory committee and basketball evaluators committee.
Ed’s passion for sports, most especially basketball, came naturally as his mother was a girls’ basketball coach with keys to the high school gym and his father was a referee. The oldest of three children in the basketball brood it was said that “he was infected with Hoosier hoops hysteria”. His love for the game never waned and when asked about it he was quoted as saying “I guess I've been living the dream for as long as I can remember”. Hailing from a school so small that it no longer exists, he went on play college basketball as a four-year starter at Florida Southern College when drafted into the Army prior to completing his degree. After his military service, which included playing and coaching for armed services all-star teams, Ed returned to Indiana to finish his degree, then began coaching as an assistant basketball and football coach. Upon receiving his master’s degree, he served as head basketball coach at four high schools in Indiana until his family moved to Florida in 1980. Ed was extremely proud to see the emergence of Florida high school basketball over the course of his lifetime.
Ed’s favorite foods drew a connection to home. It was his internal declaration of “I am of this place” that included both the quintessential mid-western and a taste for the best of the Sunshine State. His occasional indulgences included breaded tenderloin sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, popcorn, and Dairy Queen ice-cream cones, along with Plant City strawberries and Florida rock shrimp. He regularly ended his evening meal with a York peppermint patty, which he proclaimed with a wink was “good for digestion”.
Ed loved music - especially nostalgic 50/60s rock-n-roll including Elvis and Tina Turner- and he enjoyed history, action and military movies. He taught his children card games such as Crazy-Eights which they played many Sunday evenings as youngsters, and eventually Euchre, which they continue to play.
Ed lived a long, full life and even while living with the disease of his kidneys he regularly proclaimed how grateful he was to greet each new day. With his down to earth personality, he hardly met a stranger and rarely passed up an opportunity to find someone to talk to and discover commonalities. He believed that everybody needs a place to belong. He will be greatly missed and well-remembered.
James Ellis Murray 1942-2020
Lou Reeves 1938 - 2021