Thanks to my brother, or I never would have known that Mr. Russell passed away Saturday, July 12, 2008.
You know how when you don't see people for a long while how you just picture them doing what they always were. I still had Mr. Russell pictured in his classroom teaching kids history and political science. Yesterday, before I knew about Mr. Russell's passing, I was reading a book about politics... I think that would have made him happy. In the book, Ben Stein wrote about some of his favorite teachers, "I had great teachers in the public schools of Montgomery County, Maryland, in the 1950's and 1960's. To these fine men and women, it came naturally to praise America and to teach their students that love of their country was an integral part of mental health. In those long-forgotten days, teachers believed it was their job to build moral character and that patriotism was a major part of that character-- and I'm grateful for it. I don't have anywhere near the strength of character of many people around me, but what little I do have is owed largely to my teachers." Unlike Ben Stein, I had only a handful of teachers who were true scholars AND patriots. Mr. Russell was a stand out. He loved America deeply. The Founding Fathers and other great men and women in American history were real people who came alive in his classroom. I looked forward to his class and sat spellbound when he taught. I loved his class and was grateful to be one of his students even when I was young and had little experience. I knew Mr. Russell was a teacher with unique gifts. Now, as an adult, I am both thankful for the hours he spent in the classroom and even more thankful for the many hours of preparation that he must have spent outside the classroom. The only way I know to really become an American Patriot is to know history and to really know it and then to share it like he did was a great labor of love. Mr. Russell, you were just one of those teachers who can never be replaced. Thank you.