He was born February 12, 1940 to Albert and Elda (Lorenz) Schmaljohn on their family farm in Sherman County, Nebraska. He graduated from Ravenna High School.
He married Suzanne June (Gee) Schmaljohn on August 27, 1960 in Palmer, Nebraska. They were fortunate to have shared 53 years together.
Russell graduated from Kearney State College in Nebraska. He started his career teaching art in York, Nebraska before earning his Master's Degree from Fort Hays State in Kansas. Russ taught at Peru State College in Nebraska before moving with his wife to Maryville, Missouri in 1969 where he taught art at Northwest Missouri State University for 35 years. During his career, he fostered more than just creativity within his students. Russ's mentorship developed into numerous cherished, lifelong friendships.
Russ had many interests. He enjoyed listening to music, watching movies, continually thinking and sketching. He seldom missed A Prairie Home Companion radio broadcast. He was an avid reader and collector of books and records. Pottery was his passion. His work was exhibited in numerous shows and galleries throughout the Midwest. His pottery is in private collections worldwide. Russ's woodworking talents and fine craftsmanship extended beyond his art studio as reflected in his home. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.
He was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife. Additional survivors are son, Kurt A. Schmaljohn (Michelle), Los Angeles, California and granddaughter, Athena; daughter, Tara Stevenson (Paul), St. Joseph, Missouri and grandsons, Caden, Noah, and Cole; daughter, Kristin Little (Nathan), Columbus, Ohio and children, John and Chloe. Other survivors are sister, Karen O'Mara (Bill), Bloomington, Indiana; niece, Michele (Theresa); nephew, Bill O'Mara (Vicki); sister, Susan Haeker (Dean), Custer, South Dakota; nieces, Penny (Chase) and Amy (George); brother, Eugene Schmaljohn (Marilyn), St. Paul, Nebraska; nieces, Tenise (Ryan), Jenae (Boyd), Tammy (Kelly); nephew, Jeramy (Brooke); brother, Alan Schmaljohn (Amy), Millers, Maryland; niece, Jenna; numerous great nieces and nephews. Suzanne is the youngest of eight children so Russ enjoyed a large number of in-laws.
Memorial service: 10:30 A.M., August 12, Charles Johnson Theatre at Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Northwest Foundation/Russ Schmaljohn Memorial Art Fund, 800 University Drive, Maryville, MO 64468.
Mr. Schmaljohn was a member of the Missouri Cremation Service.