Russell's Story

Brunswick and Orono - Russell S. Bodwell, 95, passed away September 23, 2016, in Brunswick, Maine. He was born August 26, 1921, in Springvale, Maine, the son of Vernor Charles Bodwell and Mildred (Gowen) Bodwell.
Russell graduated from Lowell High School in Lowell, MA and then attended the University of Maine as a member of the Class of 1944, until he enlisted in the United States Air Corp. He went to preflight training at Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, where he led the Pre-flight training marching band. Russell graduated from navigation school in August of 1944, and was assigned to the 92nd bomb group in Podington, England in December of 1944. He flew 15 missions and was shot down over Denmark in February of 1945. Russell and his top turret gunner were rescued by two Danish civilians and met up with the Danish Resistance Group spending 8 days in Denmark in civilian clothes and furnished with Danish identification papers. He was transported by trolley, bus, train and ferry to Copenhagen. From Copenhagen he traveled by fishing boat to Malmo, Sweden, where he made contact with the American Embassy eventually returning to England. In September of 1945, he received his honorable discharge as a decorated veteran from the US Air Corp.
After the war, Russell returned to the University of Maine and completed his degree in civil engineering. He married his college sweetheart, Barbara Higgins Bodwell on March 23, 1946. They celebrated 66 years of marriage. In 1947, Russ completed a master's degree in Civil Engineering from University of Maine. He became the first employee of the East Coast office of O.J. Porter where he worked on the studies resulting in the dikes at LaGuardia Airport and designed 5 million feet of sand dunes to stabilize marshes along the northern section of the New Jersey Turnpike. He served as the civil engineer for the building of McGuire Air Force Base and served as paving consultant for several air force bases across the United States. In 1958, he became chief engineer of Union Building and Construction in Passaic, New Jersey, where he was responsible for construction project sections of the Connecticut Turnpike, New York State Thruway, Berkshire and Buffalo New York Extensions, Route 80 in New Jersey, and Route 40 in Springfield, Ohio. In 1962, he joined U.S. Home as chief engineer where he developed multiple housing developments in Marlboro and Jackson Township, New Jersey. In 1965, he joined Levitt and Sons as assistant chief engineer moving up to chief engineer in 1966. During his 10 year career there, he was in charge of design of single and family housing units throughout the East Coast, Chicago, Detroit, France and Spain. In 1975, he founded Henderson and Bodwell engineering firm and built the company from 18 civil engineers to over 100 engineers during his 30 year management of the company.
Russell was president of Morris County (NJ) Professional Engineers and was a life-long member of A.S.C.E. and A.S.T.M. After founding Henderson and Bodwell, he became a member of the Urban Land Institute. Russell served on the Board of Education for Hanover Park High School, NJ. After moving to New York, Russell served as an elder of the Presbyterian Church in Glenwood Landing, New York. As a youth, Russell played trumpet in several youth bands including the All New England Band in 1938 and 1939. He conducted the University of Maine ROTC, Pep and Commencement bands in 1943.
Russell was recipient, along with his wife, Barbara Bodwell, of the Block M award for outstanding services rendered through the Alumni Association of the University of Maine. Russell received the University of Maine Black Bear award for devotion and loyalty to the High Traditions of the University of Maine. He was recipient of the University of Maine Annual Alumni Award in 1984. In addition, he and his wife received the highest achievable award, the Stillwater Presidential Award from the University of Maine in 2010.
In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife, Barbara; sister, Viola Chapman; and brother, William E. Bodwell. Surviving are his brother, Vernor C. Bodwell, Jr. of Dexter; daughter, Susan Willis and husband, Bill of Storrs, CT; daughter, Joanne Ferreira and husband, Eugene of Myrtle Beach, SC; and son, William Bodwell and wife, Nancy of Long Valley, NJ; grandchildren, Kristin Whittaker and husband, Timothy of Middletown, CT, Matthew Bodwell and wife, Kristy of Lewiston, ME, Michael J. Ferreira and wife, Kelly of Atlanta, GA, Kristin Haines and husband, Jesse of Bridgewater, NJ, David Bodwell of Long Valley, NJ and Benjamin Willis of Storrs, CT; and great-grandchildren, Evan and Teagan Whittaker, and Danica M. and Michael A. Ferreira.
Relatives and friends are welcome to support the family from 5-7 PM. Wed, Sept. 28 at the Orono Chapel of Brookings-Smith, 72 Main St., Orono. The funeral service will be held at 1 PM, Thurs, Sept. 29, at the Church of Universal Fellowship, 82 Main St., Orono, with Rev. Lorna Grenfell, presiding. The family invites relatives and friends to share conversation and refreshments at the church following the service. A private interment will follow at Ledgelawn Cemetery in Bar Harbor. In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the University of Maine Foundation Two Alumni Place, Orono, Maine 04469.
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Published in Bangor Daily News
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