VICTORIA — Russell Charles Janecka, 61, went to rest on Thursday, September 30, 2021. The oldest son of eight children, Russell was born in Victoria, Texas on May 2, 1960 to the late Maynard Charles Janecka and Esterleen Adamek Janecka.
He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Gail Duncan Janecka and their three children and two grandchildren: son Robert James “Bobby” Janecka and his wife Sarah; daughter Julie Marie Janecka; son Kevin Charles Janecka and friend Mercedes; and grandsons, Elliott and Malcolm Janecka. Russell is also survived by his mother Esterleen Janecka Spann; brothers Darrell (Cindy) Janecka and Richard (Robin) Janecka; sisters Karen (Allen) Gafford, Jerilyn (D’Cater) Joseph, Jill (Tom) Friedel, Jean (Joe) Casas, and Neysa (Patrick) Milner; and numerous nieces and nephews: Wendy Gafford, Wren (John) Busby and Kaelyn & Gabriel, Whitney (Grant) Sorrell, Will Joseph, Brandon (Kelsey) Friedel and Parker, Tyler (Jessica) Friedel, Matthew Casas, Jacob Casas, Ben Casas, Sam Casas, Carey Janecka, Colby Janecka, Courtney Janecka, Mason ( Nicole) Milner, Jack Milner, Claire Milner, Collin Janecka, James Janecka, and Megan (Justin) Wallace and Harper. Russell is also survived by mother-in-law Ella Marie Duncan, and sister-in law Mary ( Scott ) Joy.
Russell was preceded in death by his father Maynard Janecka; step-father Ray Spann; father-in-law Gaylan Duncan; nephew Michael Scott Joy; niece Lauren Kate Janecka; and grandparents Toni & Charlie Janecka and Adela & Adolph Adamek.
Upon graduating from Victoria High School in 1978, Russell enlisted in the United States Air Force Security Service. He was educated at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey in California before assignment to Tempelhof Central Airport in West Berlin, Germany. There he worked in signal intelligence with the 6912th Electronic Security Squadron at Marienfelde Compound where he served as a Russian linguist. In 1979, prior to embarking on his assignment to Berlin, Russell married Gail, the love of his life, and she joined him in Berlin throughout his 4-year tour. During and after his service, he received his business education through Victoria College and the University of Maryland European Division.
When his father died in 1986, Russell took over as owner of the family’s independent insurance agency. Russell has worked diligently through the years alongside a dedicated staff, assisted by his sister Jill, striving to provide excellence in service through Janecka Insurance Agency. Elected to the board of Germania Farm Mutual Insurance Association in 1987, Russell assumed various leadership roles as he served on numerous subsidiary boards and committees. He earned and maintained the industry’s LUTCF (Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow) and CIC (Society of Certified Insurance Counselors) professional designations and maintained certification as a Leadership Fellow for the National Association of Corporate Directors and the Farm Mutual Director Certification program. He actively participated in advocacy for NAMIC (National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies) and TAMIC (Texas Association of Mutual Insurance Companies).
Russell was an active leader in the Victoria Community. He served ten years on the City of Victoria Planning Commission and led as Chairman of the Board of the Victoria Chamber Commerce in 1998; Campaign Chair for the Victoria County United Way in 2011; President of the Victoria Ballet Theatre and the Victoria Literacy Council; and mentor in insurance education to young adults and Habitat for Humanity of Victoria. Russell assumed a leadership role in coordinating the Victoria High School Class of 1978 reunions. He was the current President of the Victoria Gabriel Project and helped facilitate the opening of the new Bethlehem Maternity Home.
Russell performed character roles for Victoria Ballet Theatre for over fifteen years. He was pleased to share the stage with numerous members of his family over time. He was particularly distinguished in his role as Drosselmeyer in the annual performance of The Nutcracker Ballet. Dancing with his wife and children on stage or on the dance floor was a theme woven into their lives.
Russell was an active parishioner at Holy Family Catholic Church. He served in various liturgical ministries and was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 9088 and Fourth Degree Knights. He participated in the Holy Family Choir and Men’s Acts Music Team. For numerous years he served as the Chairman of the Auction for the Annual Festival Committee.
While they were living in Berlin, Russell and Gail volunteered at an orphanage, and it was his delight to make the children laugh at his antics as he joined them in their favorite games. For over thirteen years, Russell and Gail were active leaders in the Diocese of Victoria Engaged Encounter Ministry—a shared experience which challenged them to grow in love and faith as a couple while helping others. Even in their separate ministries and pursuits, they strongly supported each other.
Russell’s hobbies and interests were diverse over the years, ranging from model remote control planes to computers, barber shop quartet to golf and snow skiing. Motorcycle riding was a lifelong passion, and he especially enjoyed touring and experiencing God’s beautiful landscape. Russell cherished his lifelong annual vacations with his family--including all his brothers and sisters--at Concan on the Frio River. He took greatest satisfaction in his most recent pursuit—teaching his grandsons Malcolm and Elliott to swim over the past summer.
Whatever Russell did, he did with passion, particularly when it came to his family. He was devoted to his wife, his children and grandchildren, his parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, and in-laws. Russell loved with great measure and his heart was always in the right place. He will be greatly missed by all.
Visitation for Russell is from 3:00-7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 8th at Holy Family Catholic Church. A Rosary led by Fr. Patrick Knippenberg and Celebration of Life will follow at 7:00 p.m.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Brendan Cahill on Saturday, October 9th at 2:00 pm, also at Holy Family, with a flag folding presentation by the Victoria County Veterans Council, followed by a reception at the church Activity Center. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery and will take place at a later time.
Pallbearers will be brothers-in-law Tom Friedel, D’Cater Joseph, Allen Gafford, Joe Casas, Patrick Milner, and Scott Joy. Britt Jones and Chuck Schmitt will be Honorary Pallbearers.
Contributions in Russell’s memory can be made to the Victoria Gabriel Project, Bethlehem Maternity Home, or the donor’s choice. Memorial Mass donations will also be appreciated. In addition, the family has established the Russell Janecka memorial fund in Russell’s honor to continue the support for charitable causes that were dear to him in his life. Please inquire with Prosperity Bank in the Heritage Mark building at 5606 N. Navarro, Suite 100, Victoria, TX 77904 to support that fund.
Thoughts and memories may be shared online at www.gracefuneralhome.net.
Arrangements and services under the personal care of Grace Funeral Homes & Cemeteries.
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