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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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April 22, 2021

1/5/2021 7:30:00 AM
Russel A. Van Brakel Jr

Russel A. Van Brakel Jr, age 83 of the Town of Pine Lake is absent from the body but present with his Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ. He departed peacefully Saturday morning, Dec. 26, 2020, with his wife Audrey and sister-in-law Ardell at his side while under hospice care.

Russel is the beloved and faithful husband of Audrey and father of Andrew (Kathleen) Van Brakel of Canton, Mich., and David (Beryl) Van Brakel of South Lake, Texas.

His life is exemplified by his great integrity, work ethic, kindness, humor and a willingness to help those in need. He will be dearly missed by his wife, sons, sister Diana Behling of Harshaw, eight grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren who were just getting to know him, 5 nieces, 6 nephews and other relatives and friends.

Russ was born in Chicago on March 24, 1937, to Russel A. and Helen (Tuttle) Van Brakel Sr. He was raised in Chicago until the age of four when the family moved to Tomahawk. At the age of 18, Russ and his family moved to Bensenville, Ill. Russ is a 1956 graduate of Fenton High School in Bensenville, Ill. He was united in marriage to Audrey Tysland at the Bensenville Bible Church on Nov. 8, 1958. The couple lived and operated a successful business in Bensenville until 1977 when they moved to Harshaw. Russ and Audrey built and operated the Rainbow Car Wash on Lincoln street in Rhinelander for 17 years.

Russ fellowshipped at Northland Bible Baptist Church north of Tomahawk. As driving became difficult he began attending Calvary Baptist Church in Rhinelander. He had a passion for creating practical solutions to common problems and was highly proficient at building and repairing a host of different equipment. His hobbies included flying RC airplanes, hunting, fishing, motorsports and other activities that kept him outdoors including mowing the lawn.

He was preceded in death by his parents and younger brother, Ronald Van Brakel.

Due to Covid-19 there will be no public visitation or service. A Celebration of Life will be private.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Hildebrand Funeral Home & Cremation Specialists, 24 E. Davenport Street, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 54501, 715-365-4343. Everyone is invited to sign the guestbook or leave an online condolence at

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