Cover photo for Russell Lee Garner's Obituary
Russell Lee Garner Profile Photo
1969 Russell 2021

Russell Lee Garner

July 12, 1969 — September 3, 2021

Russell Lee “Rusty” Garner was born July 12, 1969 in Tulsa, Oklahoma to William Russell Garner, Jr and Billie Kay (Lee) Garner with big sister, Penny, waiting for him at home.

He grew up and attended school at Locust Grove, Oklahoma, graduating with the class of 1987. During his childhood, he played all sports, but football was his favorite. He was a lineman and proudly wore the number 79 for the Locust Grove Pirates. Rus had several favorite stories to tell of his time on the field, but his favorite was his senior year, when Locust came back to beat the Pryor Tigers by 21 points in the last 2 minutes of the game. Pryor double teamed Rusty, but couldn’t keep him from making his tackles. While attending games many years after his high school days were over, fans still referred to him as one of the Locust Grove legends.

Everyone that knew Rusty, remembers him as a gentle man with a tender heart. He had a smile that would light up a room. He did his best in making this world a better place. He was busy caring more for others than himself. When someone inquired as to what to do for him, his response was simple--prayer.

Rusty cherished his family most of all. When his mother and sister lived in Claremore, he would stop by their house before going to work to check on them and visit. They often enjoyed going for drives around Claremore Lake and would usually end up at Sonic for a cherry coke. If anything needed fixed at their house or they just wanted Rusty to come grill something for dinner, he was there for them. Later, when Kay and Penny moved to Texas, Rusty called at the same time every day to check on them and visited as often as possible.

Rusty took pride in being Uncle to Tim and Jennifer. He always had a story to tell about them and the things they did together, especially the family trips to Branson each summer. He loved watching them grow up and become successful adults with families of their own.

Rusty was very close to his cousin Robyn. In fact, he was more like a brother to her than her cousin. Every time he had a chance, he gave her a hard time about being a Pryor Tiger,  always reminding her how much better the Pirates were. He also embraced the time he spent with her daughters, Carly and Mayce. He looked forward to Saturday night cookouts where he taught the girls to grill ribs. Rusty attended as many of their sporting events as possible.

Rusty was an avid OU fan. Saturdays were spent at his Uncle David and Aunt Carla’s house watching the game. He and Uncle David enjoyed being the armchair quarterbacks and letting Carla and Robyn know how good their Sooners are. The four of them were fortunate enough to attend the last Baker Mayfield game at the OU stadium.

Rusty was active in his church and loved by all members. He was service-oriented and quick to share his testimony. He taught children’s Sunday School and served a time as Sunday School secretary. He also served in the Elders quorum as a minister to brethren facing special challenges. His humble approach in reaching out and getting to know them exemplified that of the Savior. He had a strong testimony of service to others. He made certain that those needing any kind of assistance knew where to go. Rusty was a great missionary for our church. Though shy, he had a strong testimony and when opportunity was provided, bore his testimony of the Gospel. He was not easily intimidated by title or place. In a recent hospital stay, the head nurse refused to allow more than one visitor. When she told him, she saw a quiet man become bold  as he spoke of the importance of prayer to Heavenly Father and blessings.

Those closest to Rusty were fortunate to see his ornery side as well. This last Thanksgiving, he texted Robyn that he taught Benjamin how to pillow fight. When great-niece, Emma, figured out how to make cotton balls stick to the ceiling, Rus was very proud of her as he had done that a time or two also. He taught Mayce the loser sign and grinned from ear to ear when she used it on her mother. Having a rough day, you could count on Rus to stick his tongue out at you, or do whatever was needed to make you smile.

Rusty and his friends played lots of tricks on teachers while in high school. His favorite...the time they picked up a teacher’s car and moved it. While playing catcher in a  baseball game as a youth, Rusty did what the coach told him to and made a comment to the batter to make him lose concentration. He made the comment a bit loud and Momma Kay wasn’t pleased with it.  She called Rus to the fence, reached her hand through, got a hold of his jersey, and let him know that young men don’t do that!

Robyn received texts out of the blue from Rus that said Boomer, knowing she would reply whatever….Go Pokes. When asked by someone he knew well, if there was anything he needed, he would smile that big smile and reply….a pan of brownies. While visiting with Rusty, it was nothing to hear him tell you there was a spider crawling by you, just to see you jump.. He taught Carly and Mayce the first thing you do when you get to a hotel room, was to jump from bed to bed, even if mom said that wasn’t a good idea.  He truly was a kid at heart.

In his spare time, Rusty enjoyed duck hunting and fishing. He enjoyed reading and had a collection of all types and topics of books. He also collected Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. Rusty also wrote poetry.

Rusty is survived by his mother, Kay Rigotti of Wichita Falls, TX; father and Step mother Bill and Diane Garner of Foyil; nephew Timothy and Annie Stambolis of Wichita Falls, TX; niece Jennifer Burris and Shaun of Houston, TX; great-nieces and nephews, Logan, Emma, and Benjamin Stambolis of Witchita Falls, TX.  Ender and Ripley Burris of Houston, TX; cousins  Robyn, Carly, and Mayce Antoine of Adair; favorite Aunt Carla Garner of Pryor  and favorite Uncle Don Colvard of Savannah, Georgia.

Also surviving are his: Aunt Martha Glover of Claremore, Uncle George Garner and wife Linda of Sapulpa, Aunt Shelly Hull and husband Wes of Chelsea, Aunt Charlene Stage and husband Carl of Wynona, Uncle Billy Garner of Mannford, numerous cousins and friends.

He was preceded in death by his sister, Penny Garner, Grandparents: grandfather, William Sloan Lee, Grandmother Estelene Lee-Rush, grandfather: Russell Garner,  grandmother Jane Garner, stepdad, Chuck Rigotti, stepmother Doris Garner, Uncle David Garner, Uncle Larry Rex Garner, and Uncle Kenny Glover
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Friday, September 10, 2021

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Claremore

1701 N Chambers Terrace, Claremore, OK 74017

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Oakhaven Memorial Gardens

801 S. Normal Ave.

, Valley Park, OK 74017

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