Landscapes 15


Russell S. Fling

November 11, 1926 ~ March 23, 2018 (age 91)

Russell S. Fling, November 11, 1926 - March 23, 2018. Russell S. Fling was born in Columbus, Ohio on November 11, 1926 to the late Russell Raider and Margaret Throp Fling. He passed away on March 23, 2018 surrounded by family.

Russell Fling was an entrepreneur and engineer who loved beautiful things and the people who created them. He spent most of his 91 years in Columbus, Ohio, pursuing his passions and sharing them with friends and community. Even during breakfast less than 24 hours before his death, he was organizing the kitchen staff, aides and residents of the Forum to learn to say “My friend” in as many languages as were represented among those present. He made friends wherever he went whether far off in Turkey or Thailand, or at home with family, and enjoyed writing his yearly Christmas ‘Chronicles’ to stay in contact.

Always interested in nature and traversing through it, Russ skipped North High School graduation practice and biked miles to do a birdwatching study instead.  His mother, although a bit perturbed about the missed graduation practices, was his inspiration for gardening and nature as she was an excellent gardener herself.  The heart murmur, that kept him out of the war, didn’t stop him from hiking and running track in school, although in later years it would prove to be his nemesis. His favorite hiking place, visited several times, was the Tetons in Wyoming. Enjoying Conifer Society gatherings across the U.S., Russ could explore gardens and mingle with other evergreen enthusiasts. He saw patterns in life and color and design that led him to create his backyard garden, calling it Giggleswick, because: Why not? It features rare conifers and the most unusual plants he could find, which a herd of deer loves a little too much.

Summers with his cousins on a family farm in Hillsboro, Ohio helped form him in many ways.  He saw the value of hard work, he learned to appreciate the earth and nature, he was inspired in creative problem solving, he could mull the engineering marvel of farm machinery, and he connected with his father’s family. His grandmother Sina’s diaries of teaching in a one room schoolhouse were endlessly fascinating to him.

His aesthetic appreciations led him to study architecture and structural engineering at The Ohio State University (‘49), and to declare that ‘concrete is beautiful’ as a past president of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) in 1976.  He was always true to his passions as well as his integrity while building his engineering business, R.S. Fling & Partners, in the 50’s.  He loved hiring engineers who came from afar and became his friends, making the firm truly a ‘world class’ operation. His clients expanded out of Columbus, from New Orleans to Japan, giving him opportunities to travel and interact with diverse cultures.  However, he was an Ohio boy at heart and remained active in the Ohio Society of Professional Engineers.  He was meticulous, pragmatic and practical in his engineering and wrote a book aptly named “Practical Design of Reinforced Concrete.” After semi-retiring he became an expert consultant for many years.

With retirement came free time, allowing him to focus his passion on handmade crafts, and Central Asian textiles. He was actively involved at the Textile Museum in Washington DC and other textile organizations. He even wrote 2 books on the subject and exhibited his collection, “Hats on the Silk Road” at the Columbus Museum of Art in 2015.  During his world travels, making ‘rug’ friends across the world, he always made sure to visit the local museums.

He recognized beauty in people too, whether it was the genius of Beethoven, Louis Armstrong, or the hidden talents of his grandchildren. He first saw his wife of 63 years, Dona, playing violin in the symphony and made sure to get an introduction at the end of the concert.  He looked into the eyes of all he met and wanted to know their stories because he thought everyone had a fascinating story to tell. His next book, for which he had the will but not the energy to write, was going to be the true stories of the wonderful people he had met along the way in life.

He spent considerable mental energy coming up with philosophical observations, political opinions and witty jokes, which of course were retold for years!  You never were to interrupt his timed solving of the crossword puzzle with his son Paul!  He was always ready to socialize, whether it was over a project, a family gathering, or lunches with his friends. He had a larger than life personality up until the end that couldn't be contained by his 91-year-old body.

Throughout his life, he was a faithful member of Maple Grove United Methodist Church, Clinton Heights Lutheran Church, and Upper Arlington Lutheran Church.

Russell S. Fling was survived by his wife Dona of 63 years; his 3 children, Russell Thomas (Jan), Karen Morrissey (Al), and Paul; his 5 grandchildren, Kari Bardelli (Matt), Russell Ryan (Bekah), and Lara Stroup (Bob), Max and Luke; his great grandchildren Luca, Erik, Lia and Elinor; his sister Mary Barrett and numerous other relatives and friends.  He was preceded in death by his sister Margie Goodwin, and brother-in-law John Barrett.

Russ considered life to be a celebration to be pursued with fierce determination. If you knew him, and even if you didn’t, please pursue one of your passions today with all the energy you’ve got while dedicating the pursuit to remembering him with celebration in your heart.

A memorial service will be on April 15 at 2:00 pm at Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, 2300 Lytham Rd, Upper Arlington, Ohio with a reception following.

In lieu of flowers please donate to a charity you passionately care about or one of his passions, the Columbus Museum of Art.

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