NEW MIDDLETOWN—Eleanor Gessler Russell, 90, passed away peacefully on Feb. 1, at Masternick Memorial in New Middletown with her family at her side.
Mom was born in Youngstown on Friday, Sept. 11, 1931, a daughter of Sal and Frances Resatar Napolitan and was a lifelong resident of the area. She grew up in the Italian neighborhood of “Smokey Hollow”, living on Summit Ave., Scott Street, Adams and Emerald Street. Her schooling began at Madison Elementary, then Hayes Junior High and finally to The Rayen High School where she graduated in the January class of 1950 and was the secretary of her senior class.
After graduating from high school, mom joined the workforce. She landed a position in the early 50’s at Ohio Edison in the accounting department. Little did she know that this decision would change her life forever. One day at work a handsome gentleman caught the eye of this beautiful secretary, they decided to date and thus began a relationship like no other. It was full of love, romance, excitement, trust, commitment and five sons. The young man that caught mom’s attention was Len Gessler.
Dad worked in sales at Ohio Edison and he sold himself to mom. They were married on June 4, 1955. For 16 years, life in the Gessler household was a dream that came true for both mom and dad. Then the unthinkable happened, dad passed away at the age of 42 on Feb. 17, 1971. Mom was devastated and left with five little sons, but right around the corner the second love of her life began. Dad had a best friend Tom Russell, who was never married. We all knew Tom because he was always a part of our family. After dad passed, Tom and mom fell in love and they were married on Sept. 16, 1972. Once again everything was wonderful, until our stepdad Tom passed away on July 3, 1989. Again, mom lost someone who loved her and whom she loved. She always said that; “she had two men who loved her unconditionally, some women never experience one love”.
After leaving Ohio Edison to raise our family, mom returned to work. She was a waitress at the Oven Restaurant, an elevator operator at McKelvey’s Department Store downtown, as a clerk at Mill Creek Dairy and as a clerk at the Mahoning County Board of Elections. At the Board of Elections, mom was a parttime worker for over 20 years starting in the late 60’s. She was hired full time in 1989 and remained there until her retirement in 2001.
Mom was always on the go: she enjoyed dancing, bowling, shopping, swimming, being part of our activities in athletics and just about anything that involved family and friends. She loved going to casino’s and playing card with anyone who wanted to. She loved statues and pins of angels and her guy was St. Anthony. She prayed to him for help and comfort.
One of her great passions was cooking and baking. Just about every Sunday, mom would make her homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs, she did this for over 55 years. Friday night, she would make homemade pizza and bread, the scent would fill the house. One tradition she loved came on Good Friday of Easter weekend. Mom would make ricotta cheese and macaroni pies, about 25 of them, and everyone was invited to stop over and enjoy the feast. Another tradition was baking Christmas cookies. Mom’s sister Doris and cousins Paula and Norma would take a week and bake cookies everyday for seven straight days from day till night. They would bake over 25 different varieties. It would take us months to eat them. Moms greatest joy came by loving, helping and doing things with and for others.
Mom was very proud of her catholic faith and Italian and Croatian heritage. However, her true love was all about her children and spouses, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, family and friends. Nothing in this life was more important than mom loving us and we loving her. Mom you will always be in our hearts, for after all; you taught us all how to LOVE.
Mom leaves to carry her love, her five sons: Lennie Gessler of Youngstown; Robert Gessler of Poland; Brian Gessler of Canfield; Jeff (Lorie) Gessler of Boardman and Dave (Monica) Gessler of Poland; grandchildren Aereal (Dan) Martin, Mat Gessler, Amy Gessler, Patrick (Nikki) Gessler, Brenna (Mike) Livi, Elyse Gessler, Olivia (Cody) McCullough, Gabriella Gessler and husband Dan Fernback, Madison (Kory) Kasten, Macey Gessler, Montana (Dante) Dechellis, David Gessler, Dean Gessler, 13 great-grandchildren; brother-in- law John Mikovich and sister-in-law Lilla Napolitan and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Mom was preceded in death by her parents, her two husbands, sister, Doris Mikovich, brother, Raymond Napolitan, nephews: John Mikovich Jr. and Ronald Napolitan; special cousins Paula Dellick, John Zelinsky and Norma Alexander.
Family and friends can show their love to mom from 2-5pm at St. Brendan Church on Sunday, Feb. 6 and from 10-10:45 on Monday, Feb. 7, at St. Brendan Church followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11am Celebrated by Reverend Father Kevin Peters.
Family requests in lieu of flowers donation made be made to MVI Hospice Care, 4891 Belmont Ave., Yo., 44505 or to Angels for Animals, 4750 W. South Range Road, Canfield, 44406
We would love to thank Dr. Santuccio Ricciardi, for his care and compassion extended to mom and to the staff of Masternick Memorial, where mom spent almost seven years. Their love, care, compassion and patience with mom was amazing, our family will never forget you. As you called her “Our Ellie.”
Thoughts and condolences maybe expressed to our family at the funeral home website www.mccauleyfuneral.com
The family and the funeral home request that masks be worn at all times and maintain social distancing.
Arrangements by The McCauley Funeral Home privileged to serve the valley for more than 120 years.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Eleanor (Ellie) Gessler Russell, please visit our floral store.