August 3, 1970 – November 3, 2020
It is with the utmost grief and sorrow that the family of Russ Moreland, born 3 August 1970, announce his departing this earth all too soon on 3 November 2020. As Russ journeyed on to his heavenly home, he left behind unnumbered broken hearts and a void in the lives of all who knew him that can never be filled. Russ was an adored husband and life-long soulmate to Kellie Dawn Moreland and a revered and adored father and best friend to his children, McKenzie Lee Moreland and Mason Dwayne Moreland. Russ was the eldest cherished child of Dewayne and Linda (Page) Moreland, and the consummate big brother to Leslie Moreland Lingenfelser and Jeremy Moreland. He also left behind his faithful and loving canine companion, Moose.
Russ began his life in Crane, Missouri, in a loving and safe home, playing with his Grandad and Uncle Mike, working on the farm even as a tiny one in his little rubber boots, milking cows, playing baseball and basketball, quail and pheasant hunting, and tending to his education. After graduating Crane High School in 1988, he went on to Springfield, Missouri, to attend Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University), where he fell in love with and married his lifelong partner, best friend and confidante, Kellie.
He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Education in 1993. It was from here that Russ forged his path, fueled by his passion and commitment to public education, toward his mission to ensure that public school students would receive the best educational experience possible and be free to achieve their full potential. He also strove tirelessly to make certain educators would have the tools they needed to do the job the way it was meant to be done and that they would receive the respect for which they were so deserving.
Russ began his career teaching sixth grade in Monett and coaching junior high basketball. Later, at Marionville High School, he coached and taught in the same classroom in which, years later, his beautiful, talented, and equally dedicated daughter, McKenzie, taught her first special educational class. Later, he served as principal at Pierce City High School, where, under his leadership, the school received Gold Star and Blue Ribbon awards. He then became Pierce City’s Superintendent, receiving the honor of Distinction in Performance year after year. After serving as director of Scott Regional Technology in Monett for two years, he resumed his role as Superintendent at Pierce City. In 2018, Russ was unanimously selected as the Superintendent of Schools in Monett, where he continued his noble efforts, and, of late, admirably dealt with the unrelenting rigors brought on by the pandemic.
Russ was mindful of, and diligently tended to, his own education as well, going on to earn his Masters Degree in Educational Administration, Secondary Level, from Southwest Missouri State in 2001, his Specialist in Education from William Woods University in 2006, and was working toward his PhD in Educational Leadership at the time of his passing.
Russ was all too aware of how important funding was to his mission and was a master at garnering community support for his students and educators. Under his leadership, Pierce City voters approved a 2.4 million bond issue, even though passing a bond issue had been historically exceedingly difficult. Since taking the job in 2018 in Monett, voters there also passed a bond issue.
Russ’s honors and accolades are too numerous to list in full, and in any case he never boasted of them or kept such a list to share. Russ never wavered in his dedication to his profession, nor to the students and educators whom he loved completely and valiantly served. The most glaring testament to his loving service is the respect and love returned to him throughout his career from his students, educators, and communities.
Russ somehow found the time, alongside his selfless and unending loving dedication to his family and profession, to serve his community through his natural and unassuming leadership. He served on the Boards of the Monett Area Community Foundation, the Monett YMCA, the Monett Chamber Foundation, the Monett Chamber of Commerce, the Southwest Center of Educational Excellence, and the Clark Center. He was an active member and past President of the Southwest District of MASA (Missouri Association of School Administrators), an active member of the Monett Kiwanis, the AASA (School Superintendent’s National Association), the Big 8 Conference of Superintendents, and was President of the Spring Valley Conference.
Russ embraced humor and silliness as he fundamentally understood the love, peace, and community he could bring through laughter. His gentle sense of humor and subtle spot-on comedic timing brought joy to all who knew him. Prime examples were his self-made videos with Moose, ranging on topics from school weather closings to proper masking, which eased the sting of less-than-welcome news to those on the receiving end of his dutiful messages.
Russ was a hands-on, get-down-in-the-dirt, human and leader. He was known to regularly give a lively reading to his elementary students of “Skippy Jon Jones,” the story of a tiny dog that utilizes the power of his imagination to achieve great feats.
Russ lived his life honorably. He was a kind, gentle, hard-working and humble man who served all he cared for with the utmost dedication and relentless perseverance toward excellence.
Russ loved and adored his wife, Kellie, and was deeply proud of her. He was consistently grateful and thankful to her for her loving, dedicated, and never-ending selfless service to him, their family, and all of his endeavors. A father has never loved, adored, or been more proud of his children, McKenzie and Mason. Nor has a father ever been more loved. As Kellie has said, they were his world, and he was theirs.
Russ usually tagged his emails with one of his favorite quotes–One he lived by, and encouraged others to live by: “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”-Ignaciao Estrada–
Russ leaves behind the broken hearts of his wife Kellie Dawn Calhoun Moreland; his children McKenzie Lee Moreland and boyfriend Bryan Beckwith and Mason Dwayne Moreland and girlfriend Christine Stellwagen; his parents Dewayne and Linda (Page) Moreland of Crane; his siblings Leslie Moreland Lingenfelser and husband Bill and their children Hunter Hein, Avery Lingenfelser and Caden Lingenfelser of Willard; and Jeremy Moreland and wife Lauren, and his children Madison, Maylnn and Kenlee of Crane; his grandmother Betty Page of Springfield; his sister-in-law Stacie Calhoun Bilyeu and children Joel and Ruby Bilyeu; his mother-in-law and father-in-law Connie Calhoun Hopper and Ken Hopper; and a host of other family members and friends.
Russ lives on through the lives of his wife, his children, and all who knew and loved him. We all will forever be better humans for having had the privilege of knowing and loving him. This world was a better place because Russ Moreland walked it, and will forever be less so now that he has left it.
The family has been overwhelmed by the love and support that all have extended to them during this painful time. A public memorial will be held at Burl Fowler Stadium in Monett on Saturday, 7 November 2020 at 11:00 a.m. The family asks that masks be worn and social distancing observed as Russ would have wished. A private graveside service for the family will be held later. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Russ Moreland Memorial Fund at Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri or online at http://cfozarks.org/moreland. Online condolences can be made at www.buchananfuneralhomemonett.com Arrangements are under the personal care and direction of Buchanan Funeral Home, Monett, MO.