NOOSA – Pastor Russell Kranz, who died yesterday at the age of 94, was a church leader, composer, choirmaster, talented watercolour artist - and a good man
His legacy is one of love and achievement.
He is also the father of PNG Attitude contributor, Peter Kranz, whose words have so often stirred and delighted readers of this blog.
New Zealand born, Russell Kranz’s primary life’s work was as a Seventh Day Adventist pastor and evangelist.
For several years, he was in charge of communications for the church in Australasia and the South Pacific.
When Lindy Chamberlain’s infant, Azaria, was taken by a dingo in the vicinity of Ayer’s Rock on 17 August 1980, Russell was responsible for dealing with a sceptical media.
He faced journalists many times to proclaim the Chamberlains’ innocence and to defend the respectability of the church in the face of cynicism and nonsensical stories of blood sacrifices and other depredations.
“It took its toll on him and the family,” Peter Kranz says.
Many years later, Pastor Kranz revealed that, during that period, he had received a number of death threats.
Russell was also an artist of great talent. He painted hundreds of watercolours, favouring boats, old buildings, landscapes and harbours. His works are featured in galleries and other well-known places.
On Christmas Day 2011, Pastor Kranz suffered a stroke and spent the last few years in a nursing home, paralysed in bed and unable to paint. He was unable to even raise an arm.
But he still had memories, and his recollection was sharp.
“He remembers London with bomb craters everywhere, and rationing,” Peter told PNG Attitude in 2012.
“He remembers visiting Iraq and Syria and Egypt in the 1960s, holidays with the family, silly jokes, trams in Newcastle, steam trains in Sydney, seeing the harbour bridge before the two bits joined together, taking me camping and introducing me to music.
“He remembers being arrested in Melbourne during the war for not being in uniform.”
Russell was a ministerial student in Melbourne at the time and exempt from military service. He was arrested for being of call-up age and not having the proper papers. His brother served in Papua New Guinea, at Buna.
Russell preached to many hundreds of people in Mt Hagen in the 1980s and, 20 years later in 2006, while in Kundiawa, his son Peter was mistaken for him by a man who remembered those sermons.
In 2012, Peter recalled of his father:
"He served for some years as an evangelist in London. We were on holiday in the south-west of England and, after we arrived at our hotel, sought out the self-serve buffet.
"We all helped ourselves and sat down to eat. Dad was the last and returned to the table with a huge plate filled to overflowing. He sat down and said, "My it's amazing what big serves they give you here!"
"Russell may even have topped that with one of his favourite sayings: "Sorry, that's coarse for the Pa."
"With his second wife, Gloria (his first wife died in 1995), Russell lived at Cooranbong in NSW."