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1946 ~ 2023 (age 77) 77 Years Old
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How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim
peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”
Russell Ragovin, God’s beloved child, took his final breath on earth at the age of 77 on
Wednesday evening, July 12, 2023, at his home in Gainesville, Florida, and crossed over the
threshold into eternity into the arms of God. Even though he struggled with multiple overlapping
health issues, his death was sudden and unexpected. The son of Albert and Mary (Basara)
Ragovin, Russ was born on April 26, 1946, in New York City and grew up in Milmay, in rural
southern New Jersey, helping his family on their egg producing chicken farm. Weekends were
often spent in New York City, where his father worked as a pressman for the New York Times.
Russ and his younger sister Eileen attended the last remaining two-room elementary school
house in the state. He graduated from Vineland High School, going on to receive an
undergraduate degree in business and philosophy from Ottawa University, a Master of
Philosophy degree from Drew University in the philosophy of religion, and a Master of Divinity
degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He put himself through school by working in
a variety of jobs including as an adjunct professor teaching philosophy, in the insurance industry,
as a driving instructor, chauffeur, and youth counselor. Following his pastoral internship in
Woodbury, NJ, and ordination with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the southwest
region, he served churches in Texas, Tennessee, California, Illinois, and Kentucky. He embodied
his Jewish heritage with being a follower of Jesus with integrity and pride. He loved preaching,
teaching, and was a true pastor to his flocks, working with an extraordinary generosity of spirit
until he was 74. More than anything Russ loved his family. He and Ruth Richardson met while
both were graduate students at Drew University and they married in a private ceremony on
August 15, 1985. Since he hated cold weather, they did not return to her home in Canada but
spent their almost 39 years of marriage in various places in the United States with a number of
lengthy stays in Berlin (both before and after the wall came down). They supported each other in
ministry. They had many opportunities to travel and explore the world. His love for his daughter
Rachel and grandchildren Eliana and Isaac was fierce and he was so proud of all of them.
Perhaps the greatest gift he ever received was being able to spend the last nine months of his life
living only five minutes away from them, enjoying their frequent visits and constant laughter.
Russ began each day and every sermon with a joke and always had a twinkle in his eye. His
essence could be summarized by the single word of “kindness.”
Russ is survived by his wife, the Rev. Dr. Ruth Ragovin; daughter Rachel Ragovin;
grandchildren Eliana and Isaac Benton-Ragovin; mother-in-law Dorothy Richardson; father-in-
law Herbert Richardson; brothers- and sisters-in-law Nick Guarino, John Richardson, Sarah
Richardson, Paul Richardson, and Toni Richardson; nephew Adam Guarino and his wife Cindy;
and nieces Jackie and Mimi Richardson. Russ was predeceased by his parents Albert and Mary
Ragovin; sister Eileen Guarino; and daughter Jennifer.
A private natural burial service was held at the Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery near
Gainesville, Florida on July 17, 2023.
Gifts in memory of Russell Ragovin may be sent to First Christian Church, 111 N Fifth St,
Murray, KY 42071.