Russell Doughten Jr., 86, Chester

Russell Samuel Doughten Jr. passed to be with the Lord on Aug. 19, 2013 at his home in Carlisle, Iowa.

Russ was born on a stormy Feb. 16 night in 1927 while his father, Russell Samuel Doughten Sr., drove his mother, Dorothy Woods Doughten, from Woolstock, Iowa to the hospital in Iowa Falls. He was the third of eight children, having six sisters and one younger brother.

He graduated from Chester, Iowa High School in 1945 and served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1946 (17 months). He attended Drake University, majoring in Drama, graduating in 1949. He taught English at Williamsburg High School until 1951 and went on to get his master’s at the Yale Drama School in 1954, majoring in directing. Additional education included classes at Faith Baptist Bible College and film-making classes from Southern California University.

He met his wife Gertrude Sprague at Drake Universit,y where they both worked in the girls’ dormitory dining hall, and they were married on July 2, 1950.

In 1954 Russ went to work at Good News Productions, a Christian film company, in Chester Springs, Pa. While there, his three sons were born, and he produced and directed many TV shows and movies, including “The Children’s Gospel Hour” and some for evangelist Henry Geiger. His work continued there until 1958 and included him being the producer for Steve McQueen’s first film “The Blob.” In 1958 he moved his family to Monterey Park, Calif. where he taught English and Drama at South Pasadena High School until 1964.

With a desire to produce feature length dramatic films, he went to Iowa in 1964 and raised money to create a new film production company called Heartland Productions. This new company produced “The Hostage” and “Fever Heat” and went on to manage a number of theaters in Iowa. In 1972, Russ formed a new company, Mark IV Pictures with Donald Thompson, that wrote and produced the end times evangelistic Christian film “A Thief in the Night,” premiering in March of 1973. “A Thief in the Night” is the most widely seen Gospel film in the world and has brought millions to know Jesus Christ as their savior. Russell, through Heartland Productions and Mark IV Pictures, went on to be involved with writing, producing and directing 18 more evangelistic Christian films, including three more in the prophecy series begun by “A Thief in the Night,” namely “A Distant Thunder,” “Image of the Beast” and “The Prodical Planet.”

Russ founded a non-profit company, Mustard Seed International, to create translations of the Christian films so they could be used by missionaries around the world. This company also produced a “Share Your Faith” seminar to help train Christians to share their faith. This seminar was presented live in the U.S. and other countries, including Ireland and India, and is also available on video.

Russ helped form the Christian Film Distributors Association and was instrumental in the formation of the Christian Film Producers Association. He participated in the National Religious Broadcasters Association for many decades and created and presented an annual award for Outstanding Evangelistic Film Maker. For more than 20 years he was on the board of the Iowa Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.

Russell is survived by his wife, Gertrude; sons, Paul (Darlene) Doughten D. O., a Lt. Col. in the Air Force, of West Melbourne, Fla, Joel (Ching) Doughten M.D. of Riverside, Calif. and Tim (Karen, deceased) Doughten of Spring, Texas; five grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and six siblings, Peggy Rachford of West Covina, Calif., Carol Schell of Merced, Calif., Marjorie Sneets of West Des Moines, Elaine Wolfe of Spring Valley, Minn., Gretchen Craft of Asheville N.C. and John Doughten in Garden Grove, Calif.

He was preceded in death by his first-born son, Mark, who died in infancy; a daughter-in-law, Karen Doughten; a grandchild; and his sister, Charlotte Jacobs

Services were at Carlisle Missionary Baptist Church on Aug. 24, with burial in the McFarlan Cemetery in What Cheer, Iowa. Online condolences can be made at http://www.petersonfuneralservice.com

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