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Russell Duane "Russ"  Bortell

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“So sorry to hear of your husband's passing and the loss of a great man. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you have always been a...Read More »
1 of 20 | Posted by: Natalie Tramel - Friend

“So sorry to hear of your loss Micki and Cam. You are in our thoughts and prayers. ”
2 of 20 | Posted by: Bridget Korpela - Battle Creek, MI

“Russ is my brother and I miss him so much. He was a very special man to everyone he met. From all that I have read from his friends, I am proud to...Read More »
3 of 20 | Posted by: Cindy Bortell-Chapman - Wasilla, AK

“He was truly a great brother in-law with a beautiful soule. Just loved and respected by so many! ”
4 of 20 | Posted by: Don and Karen White - Augusta, MI

“So sorry to hear of Russ's passing. He meant so much to KCC and baseball in Battle Creek. He will be sorely missed by many. Rest In Peace Russ ”
5 of 20 | Posted by: Bernie Vallier - Richland, MI

“So sorry to hear about Russ. We were roommates and teammates at Spring Arbor one semester. Played some summer baseball together too. Russ was a...Read More »
6 of 20 | Posted by: Randy Braun - Boonville, IN

“Micki, Cameron, and family,Sending you love and comfort through these days. Peace be with you. The Oglesby Sisters ”
7 of 20 | Posted by: Julie Hoelscher - HOLLAND, MI

“My deepest sympathies to your family. Prayers for peace and comfort at this very difficult time. ❤ ”
8 of 20 | Posted by: Annette Rayburn - Kentwood, MI

“17 years of shared aspirations seems like a lifetime. We won so much together and experienced so much more. It was an incredible ride. You will be...Read More »
9 of 20 | Posted by: Ian & Trish Mosher - Nova Scotia

“Micki, I am so very sorry to learn of your husband's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. ”
10 of 20 | Posted by: Irma Dunton - Battle Creek, MI

“This man was the salt of the earth. He expected your best, demanded decisiveness, and always knew the right thing to say. He would give it to you...Read More »
11 of 20 | Posted by: Jake Labrecque - Battle Creek, MI

“Dearest Micki, my thoughts and prayers have been with you and your family since Adam told me of Coach's fight with cancer, and his passing. I ...Read More »
12 of 20 | Posted by: Jane LaLonde - Herndon, VA

“Russ was always a first class guy. No fuss, no frills, just quiet excellence and accomplishment. He will be missed. He has moved on to coach a...Read More »
13 of 20 | Posted by: Paul & Sharon Ohm

“It was my distinct privilege to know Russ in the past in my role as a Primary Care Physician. He was a special person blessed with great qualities...Read More »
14 of 20 | Posted by: Kurt Barrett - Battle Creek, MI

“Russ will be missed at Bailey Park. His presents on the diamond will be remembered by the Left Field Rowdy's. ”
15 of 20 | Posted by: Bill Elliott - Battle Creek, MI

“My prayers and condolences for Micki and Cameron and family. He was one of the best and a wonderful colleague at Kellogg Community College. I...Read More »
16 of 20 | Posted by: Elizabeth Neumeyer - Battle Creek, MI

“Our sincere condolences to your family as you celebrate his life well-lived. Russ will be missed but remembered for all of his accomplishments and...Read More »
17 of 20 | Posted by: Chris and Susan Doyle - FL

“Coach Bortell gave me a chance to play baseball and walk on to the team for the 2007 and 2008 season. He inspired everyone to hold themselves to a...Read More »
18 of 20 | Posted by: Zack Morales - Palm Bay, FL

“From the day I met Russ in 1988 at KCC, I knew he was a special guy. He never hesitated to help out when I was given the task of starting...Read More »
19 of 20 | Posted by: Connie Speers - KALAMAZOO, MI

“Our deepest sympathy to the family of Russ. ”
20 of 20 | Posted by: Sharon Barrett - Battle Creek, MI

Baseball Emblem

Russell Duane "Russ" Bortell, of Battle Creek, at the age of 63, went on to coach again, after losing his battle with cancer at Glenn Arbor Hospice Residence on Friday, January 29, 2021.

Russ was born in Hillsdale, Michigan the son of Roland Duane "Ron" and Marian Jean (Norris) Bortell. His childhood was idyllic, growing up on a farm in Jonesville, MI. He was taught manners, values of right vs. wrong and how to treat others, which contributed to his love of people and coaching. He graduated from Jonesville High School, where he competed in numerous sports. Bortell played intercollegiate baseball at Glen Oaks Community College, the University of Texas-El Paso and Spring Arbor University. He graduated from Spring Arbor University with a Bachelor's Degree in education, and was first employed at Pennfield to run the in-school-suspension program. He loved being able to teach young athletes the game of baseball and aspired to eventually coach at a higher level. In 1987, a young Bortell while at Pennfield High school, was approaced by a member of KCC's board of trustees asked him to coach baseball for the Bruins, making his dream a reality.

While at KCC, he met Michele Lee "Micki" Embury. They were married November 30, 1990. Surviving are his wife, Micki; son, Cameron R. Bortell of Battle Creek; his parents, Ron and Marian Bortell of Jonesville; three sisters, Cynthia (Michael) Chapman of Wasilla, Alaska, Denise (Michael) Briggs of Jonesville, Valerie (Jeff) Neeb of Milwaukee; two sisters-in-law, Janet (Tom) Lupke of Jerome, Karen (Don) White of Augusta and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and their families.

Russ coached KCC to multiple conference championships and set the then-school record for wins in a season with 46 in 2005. He also served two stints in USA Baseball, including being an assistant coach for the 1993 U.S. Junior National team. Beyond the college baseball world, Bortell was a player and a coach for summer baseball teams in Battle Creek, including Behnke/Bud and HBC for 20-plus seasons, competing in several Stan Musial World Series events and NABF World Series tournaments. He is also a member of the Battle Creek Baseball Wall of Fame. Russ played his first Roy Hobbs Field of Dreams tournament in 1997 and was hooked He and Micki would rent housing for a week, then two weeks and eventually four and five weeks. Ft Myers became their home away from home. Micki did not miss many games and Russ did not miss many dates with Micki. While it is rare for Russ to talk about his own baseball achievements (and there are many), he did enjoy talking about umpiring games with his son, Cameron R. Bortell. He was honored with a 30 year officiating award by MHSAA. His #35 baseball jersey was retired by KCC in a 2011. He was also active in the NJCAA, the NABF with Stan Musial and later the NABF WS. He loved his Lady Bruins teams and coaching volleyball, softball and basketball. He was also a member and former board member of the former Pennfield Exchange Club.

He loved the early mornings and after retiring from KCC, Russ worked at Binder Park Golf Course, enjoying being outdoors, mowing the greens and watching the wildlife. Russ loved working in his yard, the challenge of gardening and making things grow. He was a great friend, a fierce competitor, he expected you to do your best and to treat people with respect. During his illness, his love of people was reflected in other's acts of kindness. His cousins helping to bring Russ home from Florida, his longtime officiating friend, Rev. Cary Grant, mentoring his family through Russ' illness and his final days; his coaching colleagues, players, sports-writers and his former KCC family all sharing what a wonderful friend, person, player, coach, mentor, ambassador and role model Russ exemplified.

A service to celebrate Russ life will be held later at Bailey Park when it is safe for all his family and friends to gather and share their love and Russ' legacy.

Memorial contributions in memory of Russ may be made to the Coach Russ Bortell Memorial Scholarship at Kellogg Community College, 450 North Avenue, Battle Creek, MI 49017, or online at Personal stories of Russ or messages for his family may be placed here at Arrangements are by Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care.

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