Russell H. Kolbow

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August 13, 1922 - December 29, 2018
Born in North St. Louis, MO
Resided in Lake St. Louis, MO

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Funeral services will be private at the family's request. 


Russell H. Kolbow, 96, of Lake St. Louis, MO passed away peacefully at his home on Saturday, December 29th, 2018.

Russ was born on August 13, 1922 in North St. Louis, MO to Edward Kolbow and Mamie Roeder Kolbow, both of German descent, a point of pride for Russ and his family.  He was the youngest of three brothers (Ed and Bob), all of whom served in the Second World War.  Russ attended Columbia Elementary school for eight years and Hadley Technical School for two years.  He was baptized and confirmed at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Russ started working at the age of 15 at Postal Telegraph Company (which later merged with Western Union) and stayed there from 1937 to 1942.  He delivered telegrams first by bicycle and then by car to places like Union Station and the Old Cathedral.

Russ enlisted in the U.S. Navy in November 1942 and left for basic training in Virginia in January 1943. He then traveled to the 27th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) base in California to prepare for deployment to the South Pacific. He spent three years serving on islands such as Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Okinawa where he built and maintained roads, air strips, bridges, hospitals, etc. He happily returned home in January 1946 following the war.

After the war, Russ started work at Western Sheet Metal where he completed a four year sheet metal apprenticeship. He went on to work for thirty-five years as a sheet metal worker at both Western Sheet Metal and later Mound Rose Sheet Metal Company. Some of his hobbies after the war included competing on a roller skating team that traveled across the country and attending the Indianapolis 500 Race with his friends for twelve years. He also really enjoyed his cars, specifically his red, white, and black 1956 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer.

On June 16th 1962, he married Ida (Poli) Wafe, his wife of 56 years whom he had lived close to in North St. Louis. Their marriage formed a wonderful mix of German and Italian heritage and customs.  Russ, Ida and Carol moved to Florissant, where they built a new home.  A few years later, Carol started her family and moved out on her own.  Russ and Ida had Patty and Rusty who grew up there and attended St. Dismas Catholic school for 8 years.  They enjoyed many weekend trips to the farm in High Hill to see Ida’s two sisters and mother. Russ loved helping Minnie mow the fields and take care of the farm.  He also enjoyed fishing at the dam and teaching Patty and Rusty to ice skate on Mary and Mike’s quarry. They also enjoyed all the Kolbow family barbecues at Ed’s home with Ed and Bob’s families.  Russ spent many hours watching St. Dismas soccer and softball games, as well as McCluer North hockey games.  Roller skating with the kids at Aloha roller rink allowed him to show off his roller skating skills. Russ also took pleasure in the multitude of cars that Rusty bought, sold, and kept in their garage instead of his. He also enjoyed attending the annual Florissant Valley of Flowers parade and festivities and eating barbeque ribs there. During the summer, they enjoyed visiting Ida’s brother and sister-in-law on Lake Huron in Port Sanilac, Michigan.

Russ and Ida followed Rusty to Lake St. Louis where he and his family lived, and they have lived there now for twenty years. They enjoyed rides on Rusty’s boat on the lake and swimming in the pool at his home. In May 2008, the Lake St. Louis Veterans Park was opened and Russ enjoyed the Memorial Day activities at the park. A brick and bench at the park bear his name to honor his service. He also enjoyed decorating the highway 40 bridge with flags and welcoming the bikers on their way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Russ was lucky to experience an Honor Flight to Washington D.C. in 2010 along with other World War II veterans to see the WWII Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, as well as other war memorials and the U.S. Capitol building. In the past few years, he was able to enjoy several trips to Lake of the Ozarks to spend time at Rusty’s lake house as well as watching a very large shed being built at Rusty’s home in Foristell.  Russ enjoyed their yearly trips to Michigan in August to visit Patty’s family and celebrate his birthday, including his last one there this past August for his 96th birthday to see their new cottage on Lake Huron, which was worked in between his blood draws and treatments.

Russ was a lifelong Cardinals Baseball fan and critic, and enjoyed keeping track of their active roster and lineup. He loved trains and the train rides he took at the St. Louis Zoo, to Jefferson City for his 80th birthday, and the Canadian Color Tour. He also loved making maps and giving directions. He had an amazing knack for remembering the names of roads and towns, even after not visiting them for decades. At home, he loved completing word searches and watching Meet the Press, Wheel of Fortune, Price is Right and Lawrence Welk. He loved having his Kellogg Corn Flakes with bananas every Monday morning. He also loved Hershey bars, Rusty’s BBQ ribs, canned asparagus, cranberry sauce, root beer, Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, Steak & Shake milkshakes, pineapple upside down cake, and his mom’s bread pudding recipe.

Russ loved staying active and never really slowed down. He drove, worked around the house, and mowed his own grass until he was 95. Russ had a real appreciation for flags and anything patriotic. He always flew an American flag at his home, and took great care to keep it flying true. In the past few months, he enjoyed watching the birds at his bird feeders as well as sitting outside on his deck.

Russ was a wonderful husband, father, step-father, father-in-law, grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather, uncle, great uncle and friend. He serves as a wonderful role model for younger generations – a hard worker, kind, honest, generous, and loyal to his family and country and he will be dearly missed.


In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to:

1) Greater St Louis Honor Flight // 314-o968-7717
Greater St Louis Honor Flight, Inc.
8764 Manchester Rd, Suite 203
St Louis, Mo. 63144
In Honor of Russell H. Kolbow ( The next flight is March 02, 2019)

2) USO of Missouri Inc. at Lambert Field
USO of Missouri Inc
Atten: Donations
P.O. Box 10367
10701 Lambert International Blvd.
St Louis, Mo. 63145 or 314-429-7702
In Honor of Russell H. Kolbow

Guestbook Entries

  1. Chris Groeber. Ssm cancer care lab December 31, 2018 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    candle 5Russell was such a wonderful person who I came to know from Ssm Lab my coworker and I will truly miss him and his stories. We looked forward to seeing him on the schedule because we knew he would always have a smile and a story for us. What a wonderful person his family had to look up to and admire. RIP Russel we will miss you…

  2. Cel Woods-SSM Cancer Care Lab January 3, 2019 at 8:18 am - Reply

    candle 3“NEVER WORRY”- two words I always hear from Russell whenever he was around. I came to know Russ because I am one of the SSM Cancer Care Lab Staff that works on his blood tests. Towards the end of his blood monitoring and follow-ups, his counts were low and I will tell him I am worried about his counts and he will always say “NEVER WORRY”. During his visits, we listen to his fun and wonderful stories. We make comments about the current events and nothing ever seems to bother Russell. The positivity and appreciation in life and the loyalty and love to his wife and family which he proudly express every time makes for my great admiration to Russell’s character in general. May our Almighty grant eternal and peaceful rest to Russell.

  3. Diane Doyle January 7, 2019 at 12:22 pm - Reply

    Beautiful tribute to a truly wonderful man! R.I.P Russ

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