Clarence Russell Fortney • September 13, 2019



Russ was born in Wheeling WV on June 28, 1939 to Cecil E. and Clara E. Ware and died on September 13, 2019 after a short battle with lung cancer. He was married to Annette Custer Fortney for 24 years.

Russ was married to Colleen Fortney (died 1992) for 33 years prior to her death. From this marriage they had two sons, Roger Fortney (Carie) and David Fortney. He had one grandson, Maron Fortney.

Russ had a very colorful background. He joined the Navy in West Virginia in 1957 after graduating from Wheeling High School. He then graduated from Kent State in Kent, Ohio with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He later attended Seminary at Duke University and graduated in 1978.
While in the Navy, he was a Navy Seal. His duty assignments included the following: USS Purdy DD734; USS Guam LPH7; USS Ainsworth DE1059; USS W.E. Sims DE1062; USS Detroit DR7; USS Vulcan DR7; Steam Generating plant inspector on the Boiler Appraiser team; Swift Boats for 2 years during tour in VietNam which was from 1974-1977 and was Casual Report Investigator during his last 10 years. His last 4 years were spent at Ellyson field as Master Chief of the Command. He retired in 1978 but was called back for Seal Duties on the Tiger Team twice after retirement. He was employed by various engineering firms after his retirement from the Navy. His appointments for the Methodist Church by the Alabama/West Florida conference included Midway United Methodist Church, Pleasant Grove UMC and Farmhill UMC. He then resigned from the Methodist church and had affiliation with the Presbyterian Church where he pastored at McElwain Presbyterian, Niceville/Valparaiso Presbyterian and Concord Presbyterian. He then joined Warrington Baptist Church as a member and later became the interim pastor until he became pastor at Beach Haven Baptist for 14 years.

Russ is survived by his wife Annette and his two sons Roger (Carie) Fortney and David Fortney and his grandson, Maron Fortney. He is also survived by his step children, Kris Jernigan (Frank) and Kevin Edgar and his grandchildren Morgan Jernigan, Gavin Jernigan and Kendall Edgar.
Funeral services will be at Pensacola Memorial Gardens on Monday September 16, 2019 at 11:00AM. Burial will be at Pensacola Memorial Gardens following the service with full military honors.
Condolences via donations to the Florida Baptist Children’s Home, 1000 Chemstrand Road, Cantonment, FL 32533 in Russ’ memory would be welcomed by his family.

  1. Enzo and Christina Giordano says:

    Dear Annette, David, Roger and Family, we are so sorry for your loss. We loved Russ dearly and considered him part of our family. His love for the Lord and service to the church will never be forgotten. He was a caring, loving and compassionate Pastor and Friend and will be deeply missed. We love you all and keep you in our prayers!

  2. Bob and Ann Curry says:

    Our prayers and sympathies are with Annette and family. We loved, respected and cherished Russ. He was like a brother to us. We will miss him dearly but look forward to our reunion in Heaven one day.

  3. Cheryl Stacey Kiaunis says:

    Annette, I am so very sorry to learn about Russ. I can tell you from experience God will give you to strength to walk this road and when you just can’t, the Lord will carry you. The one word I clung to when John died was HOPE. May hope sustain you in the days ahead.

  4. Risa Leary says:

    Greatest respect and sorrow at the loss of this kind and generous man. A gentleman and a patriot. Loved his family and talented in every part of his life’s work. He will be missed by everyone and will leave memories for everyone he influenced. Love and peace be with all of this wonderful family as they lay Russ to his well deserved rest.

  5. Patrice Porterfield says:

    Thinking of you, wishing you hope in the midst of sorrow, comfort in the midst of pain. Praying for you Annette.

  6. Bobby and Ouida Jones says:

    Bobby and I send our heartfelt condolences to the Fortney and Jernigan families. We are so sorry to hear of Mr. Russ’ passing.

  7. Brent Dunn - Nephew says:

    Uncle Sonny was such an inspiration to so many people. He accomplished so much in his lifetime, but never bragged about it. It wasn’t until 2 years ago when my family stayed with Sonny and Annette, that I found out he was part of the first group of Navy Seals. He was sent to England, Israel, and Canada to get special forces training. This training developed into what is now the standard of Navy Seal training.

    My favorite story; He was dropped off on a ship to deploy. An officer showed him a bunk in general quarters. He asked, “Where are you sleeping?” the officer said, “I have my own room.” Sonny said, “I’ll sleep there instead.” The officer didn’t want to let Sonny sleep in his room until the Ships captain made it clear. The officer then said, “I’ll have my stuff out in the morning.”

    He was a servant of God and served his country. We are all grateful for everything he did for so many people.

  8. Rachel Dunn says:

    Cousin David,

    I’m so sorry about your dad. I know its been a long time since I was stationed at Biloxi that saw him, and you! But he always had a good story to make me laugh and what a proud military background and accomplishments. Love to you all, and David if you ever get the urge to meet up (New Orleans?) we could reminisce. Best always- Rachel

  9. Nancy Emery says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Annette. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, sweet friend.

  10. Gary Dunn says:

    My condolences to Uncle Sonny family, David, Roger, Annette. First recall meeting with Sonny and family at family get togetherness at Grammas/Grandpas in West Virginia up on the Mountain and Sonny making me laugh. He visited us in Kansas at our parents House and we in turn visited Sonny and the family in Virginia Beach and Sonny gave us a tour aboard the Navy ships in dock. Pensacola was a hoot visiting Uncle Sonny and listening to his life stories. Sonny was an awesome man and I will always remember him and his awesomeness.

  11. Larry and Cindy Boardman and Martha Chandler says:

    Dear Annette, Roger, and David, We are so sad for you and your family. You all are in our prayers and thoughts. We will miss Russ until we are all united together again. Love you.

  12. Kerry Paape says:

    Ms Annette: I am so sorry for your loss. I remember you and Mr Fortney very well. He was such a kind and gentle man. My deepest sympathy for you and your family. Kerry Paape

  13. Gary Cooper says:

    Annette, my deepest sympathy to you and all of your family.

  14. Jim and Ellen Boone says:

    Jim and I are so sadden by Russ’ passing. We did not know him well but enjoyed visiting with you at our last class reunion. May the Lord lift you up with his mighty right hand.

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