Cover photo for William Russell "Russ" Oaks's Obituary
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1959 William 2023

William Russell "Russ" Oaks

February 7, 1959 — August 16, 2023

Andersonville

 

William R. “Russ” Oaks, age 64, passed away at home in Andersonville, Tennessee unexpectedly on Wednesday, August 16, 2023. He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is preceded in death by his parents, William “Bill” Oaks and Robinette Catherine Kesley Oaks. He grew up in Halls. When Russ was about 10, his father took him to see the movie Patton. That sealed the deal for him; his ambition was to join the military and be a tanker. Russ was pragmatic and self- disciplined from an early age. He also did not mind voicing his opinion, a fact which landed his desk and him in the hallway at school on more than one occasion. He was a voracious reader, loved baseball, and music. He graduated from Halls High School and entered the University of Tennessee majoring in history, and entering the ROTC program. He thrived in the environment, graduated in 1981 and was commissioned a US. Army Armor Officer. His duty posts included Fort Hood; Fort Knox; Germany; Fort Leavenworth; Fort Stewart; and the Pentagon. During his time at Fort Stewart, he was deployed to Kuwait twice. In 1990, Captain Russ Oaks was sent to the Defense Information School, Public Affairs Officers Course. There he met his future wife, Teri, who was a civilian in the same course. At first, she thought him a bit arrogant, but after being paired for a project, she realized that he was just extremely competent and confident. He guided the project, and of course, it was a complete success. Russ thought the Army had made a mistake by assigning him that functional area since he did not like being the center of attention nor did he want to deal with media. True to form, however, he embraced the challenge, and proved to be very effective in that position. The couple married later that year and spent the first three years of their marriage in Germany. He was part of the public information team at Headquarters, U.S. Army, Europe in Heidelberg during the first Gulf War. He later transferred to a combat arms unit as an operations officer in Mannheim. They returned to the United States first to Fort Leavenworth, and then to Fort Hood. Their son Will was born in Texas in 1995. Russ’s pragmatism and leadership qualities were well known and respected in the military. People often thought that the military shaped him, but he was born for the military. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 20 years of service and left his last duty assignment, the Pentagon, just months before September 11, 2001. Russ interviewed with Knox County Schools and was offered a position. He was employed by the school system until he retired in June 2022. He held three positions during his career there, the last was Chief Operating Officer. His ability to understand complex issues and solve problems helped him greatly in this position. Russ’s professionalism served the school system well for over 20 years. Russ’s family was everything to him. In his son’s younger years, he often came to soccer or baseball games straight from work, suit jacket and tie left in the car, wearing his Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses. For years, many of his son’s friends thought that his dad worked for the FBI because he wore a suit and those sunglasses. Will’s friends dubbed his dad “FBI Man.” Russ was a rock for his family, his friends, and those who worked for him. He has been described as kind, generous, supportive, loyal, responsible, reliable, and he inspired those qualities in others. He was steadfast in his beliefs and stubborn at times, and his depth of knowledge about subjects was incredible. At a dinner party one time, someone told a story about being at a zoo and seeing a two-hump camel. He couldn’t remember the name of it. Not missing a beat, Russ replied, “Bactrian.” Everyone just stared at him! He had the famous Oaks gene for story-telling and humor, and could be very entertaining. And though he seldom showed emotions, they ran deep in him. He wasn’t a church-goer, but he believed in the Lord. When Russ’s son wanted to major in history in college and received a lot of flack for it from friends and even some teachers, Russ supported him all the way. He supported his family in any of their endeavors. When his sister-in-law accepted a position and she felt she might be stepping into the lion’s den, he told her “you can roar.” In his retirement he rekindled a hobby from his high school days, Ham radio. Throughout the years, he enjoyed woodworking, repairing anything around the house (he was usually successful), working on cars, and genealogy. He had recently become involved with the Union County Cemetery Association as several of his ancestors are interred in that county. He could also be found helping Teri with Daughters of the American Revolution projects for her chapter. They both enjoyed genealogy and history, and visited historic sites as shared interests. He is survived by his wife of 33 years, Teri; his son Will; three brothers, Randy (Jo Dell), Michael, and David (Allison); niece Rebekah and nephew Jeffrey. He has numerous cousins in the Knoxville area and Florida. Arrangements are through Mynatt Funeral Home in Halls. Monday, August 21, family visitation is scheduled from 4-6 p.m. with a Celebration of Life afterwards. In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that donations be made to Anderson County High School Band, Clinton, TN, which Will was a member of for four years, or your favorite charity.

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Monday, August 21, 2023

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life

Monday, August 21, 2023

6:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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