Russell William Redman was a Newsday pressman who traced his family back centuries by knocking on doors and persuading people to relate their stories — even if a shotgun was pointed at him.
The shotgun was wielded by a 96-year-old woman who lived in a Maine cabin. Even she relented, inviting Redman and a niece inside to learn what it was like to grow up on the Maine coast nearly a century ago.
“He was just so incredibly passionate about the whole thing, it was an adventure for sure,” said niece Katherine Redman, of Northport.
She noted Redman began his research in the 1980s, long before the internet sped up such hunts.
His persistence and travel throughout New England eventually led to a long-abandoned family plot in Maine’s Cape Rosier, on Penobscot Bay.
Turning over a fieldstone marker revealed the engraving: Benjamin Redman, 1743.
On July 17, Redman, 76, died at his Hicksville home after two strokes, said his son, Russell William Redman Jr., of Bethpage.
Born in the Bronx, Redman moved to Hicksville with his family at about age 10.
He started at Newsday’s Garden City flyroom at age 19 in 1959, removing newspapers from fast-moving conveyor belts.
Rising to apprentice, he was promoted to pressman, joining the Graphic Communications International Union in 1962. He became pressman in charge and later retired in 2002, long after Newsday moved to Melville in 1979.
Redman helped keep the close-knit group of retired pressmen together by organizing gatherings, said a former colleague, pressman Ron Timmerman, 79, of Coram.
“He was a very friendly guy, very outgoing,” Timmerman said. “He liked to clown around; he was always a prankster.”
Redman also became a sergeant in the Army Reserve after joining in 1963. Though recalled to active duty in 1968, he was discharged a year later.
“He was pretty much a very steady, easygoing guy,” his son recalled. “He could talk to anybody.”
Redman and his wife, Mildred, married more than 50 years, “just tried to lead a good example” for their children, said their son, who paid his Hofstra University tuition by working summers in the Newsday pressroom.
Determined to rehabilitate his grip after injuring his hand on the job, Redman often rode his bike to and from work, his niece said.
His daughter-in-law, Kira Redman, recalled in a post how warmly Redman, called Poppy, welcomed her into the family with a special gift on the first Christmas: two scrolls of a genealogy tree of the entire family.”
“It meant so much to him, and this precious gift was truly heartfelt,” she said.
Redman’s wife Mildred Redman died in 2013 at age 75, and his oldest daughter Dana Brown passed away from cancer at age 48 in 2014.
His survivors include a brother, Raymond, of Hicksville, daughter Karen Mirsky of Flanders, New Jersey, and five grandchildren.
His ashes were interred at the Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn.