Russell Loutzenhiser Jr., 87, a long-time Idyllwild resident, passed away peacefully at the side of his wife of 66 years on Tuesday, March 17, 2009, in Palm Springs.

He was born May 17, 1921, in Kendallville, Ind., to a family of three brothers and five sisters.

He was a Purple Heart veteran of World War II and the invasion of Normandy. He was a proud member of the American Legion Post 800 in Idyllwild.

His true passion, however, was softball. He built several softball diamonds in his lifetime, from 1945 in Europe to Indiana and California, including a diamond in Idyllwild.

He also started dozens of leagues and teams. He is best remembered on the Hill for getting hundreds of people involved in his favorite sport, and continued playing into his 70s.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at Hemet Valley Mortuary, 403 N. San Jacinto St., Hemet.

Russ is survived by his wife, Ella Pauline “Polly” Loutzenhiser; two daughters, Cheryl (Howard) Brown and Beth (Steve) Pachman; a son, Michael (Sue) Loutzenhiser; a daughter-in-law, Maria, Mark Loutzenhiser’s widow; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his son, Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, U.S. Forest Service.