Russ Franzen is an award-winning writer and historian. He grew up in New Lenox, IL and attended the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He worked in radio and television in Herrin, Marion, and Springfield, Illinois and Lapeer, Michigan before moving into the public sector. He spent nine years in the judicial system, serving as a magistrate and court administrator, then went back to work in the news business as a newspaper columnist. He started writing songs to help teach history to children. His songs tell stories and histories of lighthouses, ships and life along the Great Lakes.