Tuesday, July 3, 2018

No Obituary for Russell Gayhardt Fister?

My great uncle Russell G. Fister (left), with his wife Winona Kathryn Simons (1911-1996), sister Margaret Fister Hartley (my grandmother), and brother-in-law George Hartley Jr., (my grandfather), likely in Arlington, VA in 1939. From my personal collection.

This guy must have had an obituary, but so far I can not locate one.

Things I know about great uncle Russell Fister (1903-1975):

  • He was born in Illinois (probably in LaSalle county) on August 14, 1903.
  • When he was 17 he joined the Marine Corps as a private first class
  • the 1920 Federal Census shows him as a living in the Marine barracks on Parris Island, Beaufort, South Carolina.  He would reenlist in 1921 and go to the Marine Barracks Navy Yard in Washington D.C. where he was at the Clerical School detachment/clerk for the post quartermaster(?).
  • By the late 1920s he was in Poplar, Roosevelt, Montana (Fort Peck) working as an Indian agent, and he married Winona Kathryn Simons in December 1929 at Wolf Point, MT (she was 1/8 Assiniboine). They had one daughter in 1939.
  • In the 1930 Census he was living with Winona in Poplar, MT, and was a Lease Clerk at the Fort Peck Indian Agency.  He appeared in several Indian censuses in the 1930s.
  • The 1940 Federal Census indicated that he and his family lived in Washington, D.C in 1935.
  • In the 1940 Federal Census he, Winona, and their daughter lived in Arlington, VA.  He was working as an Indian Bureau Administrative(?) Assistant for the Department of the Interior.
  • In late 1943 he and Winona divorced.
  • 1943-1947 I find record of him acting as Director of Credit in Chicago for the Office of Indian Affairs - Extension Division in Montana.
  • In Oct 1948 he married his second wife Laurine Grantz in Chicago.
  • About 1953 he was in Window Rock, Apache, Arizona.  My father has told me that he met him during a family vacation in the area.  I don't know if Russell just met them there or if he was working there?
  • 1955-1957 (and possibly more years before/after) he was working as Superintendent for the Anardarko area/field office in Pawhuska, Oklahoma (I think he was in Chicago during this).
  • About 1959 Russell retired and opened a coin shop Numismatics:
Berwyn Life Newspaper
abt August 1959
page unknown/clipping
courtesy of Ancestry user mlecuyer25  
Numismatics (Coin Shop) Opens 
Numismatics is the new sign on an establishment just opened at 6733 W. 26th st. Numismatics, the science of coins, tokens, medals, paper money and objects closely resembling them in form or purpose, is more often referred to as coin collecting. 
R. G. Fister, who owns and operates this new coin shop, recently retired after more than 37 years of the U.S. Government, 32 of which he spent living and working among Indians in various parts of the United States.  His main hobby over these years was coin collection.  He is a member of the Chicago Coin Club and the American Numismatic Association.
According to a photocopy (courtesy of Ancestry user mlecuyer25) of R. G. Fister's business card/letter heading the following type of products were available at Numismatics: U.S. coins, foreign coins, medals and medallions (sales, purchases and appraisals), accessories and supplies, vari-colored plastic coin holders, and commemorative medals, badges, wooden nickels, etc. produced to order. 
  • A family group sheet that I personally own had him living at 1350 N. Astor, Chicago, IL in July 1966.
  • Russell died on February 13, 1975 in Chicago**:

Name: Russell Gayhardt Fister
Event Type: Death
Event Date: 13 Feb 1975
Event Place: Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
Event Place (Original): Address: 1350 N Astor
Residence Place: Gender: Male
Age: 71
Age (Estimated): Marital Status: Married
Ethnicity: Race: White
Occupation: Executive
Birth Date: 14 Aug 1903
Birth Year (Estimated): Birthplace: , , Illinois
Death Year (Estimated): Funeral Home: Lain And Son Inc
Burial Date: 17 Feb 1975
Burial Place: Chicago, , Illinois
Cemetery: Graceland
Father's Name: Ben Fister
Father's Birthplace: Mother's Name: Mary Anderson
Mother's Birthplace: Spouse's Name: Laurine Grantz
Spouse's Titles and Terms: Spouse's Gender: Informant's Name: Rhodora Hopkins
Certificate Number: Record Number: Entry Number: 604290
Source Reference: GS Film Number: Digital Folder Number: 101276894
Image Number: 01075

**"Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q2MN-XBVR : 18 March 2018), Russell Gayhardt Fister, 13 Feb 1975; citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, source reference , record number , Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm.

© 2018 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.


  1. Fister worked for B.I.A -Osage Indian tribe - in Pawhuska OK. When he worked there the Supt was Ed A.Smith. I think they both retired about same time, and both went to Chicago. Smith had an interest in making medals of some Osage tribal leaders.
    And he did by the( Chi Firm ) Meyer & Wenth CO ( tokens and medal makers ). I think smith and fister formed a partnership to sell the medals he or them had made.
    Fister may have also sold coins. He did business @ 800 N.Clark St - rm 324 - Chicago 60610 . I never knew him, but I am a long time coin dealer and ended up buying the medals that were left , after Smiths death. Regards, Richard