Born on 20 February 1899, into a Stanley area pioneer family,
Russell Handsel, was the 6th child of the 9 children of Dora Isabell
McGinnis and Sidney Daniel Handsel.
The family farm on which Russell grew up was about two
miles from the center of town, out on the Mariposa Road. His
grandfather, John P. Hansel, bought the land from George Tate and
built the federal style two story house in 1877 in which Russell's
father, Sidney, later reared his family.
After serving in the Army just after World War I, Russell
returned home, settled down and on 14 August 1926 he married
Lila Gertrude Huggins, the daughter of Margaret Elizabeth Summey and Henry McClure Huggins.
Lila grew up in the Hardin, NC area.
The couple made their home in a two story house on the north
end of Stanley where Russell owned and operated a grocery store.
The first store building was the typical small country-type store, but
sometime in the late 1940's Russell built Stanley's first self-service
grocery, a brick building, back behind the original store. He continued in that business until
his retirement. During the 40 years as a grocer, Mr. Handsel often gave groceries to those
in need and unable to pay, especially during the depression and war years. He allowed
others to buy groceries on credit. All who knew him considered him a kind and gentle person.
Many people in town, (customers, friends and family) remember every year receiving Christmas
and Birthday cards from Russell Handsel.
Russell and Lila Handsel were longtime members of the Stanley Methodist Church.
For many years Lila was a Sunday School
teacher. Russell was Church Superintendent of Sunday School for
twenty five years and was on the church finance committee. His
duties also included printing the church newsletter as well as any other needed work.
Among his civic duties, Russell Handsel was an alderman on
the town council for several years, a charter member of the Stanley
Lion's Club, a charter member of Stanley's Masons, Chairman for
the March of Dimes for 15 years, and a Chairman of the Stanley
School Board for 16 years, prior to school consolidation with the county.
Lila Huggins Handsel who was born on 6 Aug. 1897, died 11
April 1966. Russell died on 6 December 1985. They are both buried beside their two sons,
Jack and Richard, in Stanley Cemetery.
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