Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thomas Russell....killed in plane crash in Guatemala.

Tom Russell was a very enthusiastic supporter of Mayan Families. He sponsored many children to go to school.   He had just renewed his sponsorship for these children again this year.
He was killed in a light plane crash in Santiago, Atitlan earlier this month.  Tom was a lovely man.  He was described below as the "most intelligent and kindest man" and that was my experience in my interactions with him.
I am very saddened by Tom's death ...he will be very much missed.
He definitely did make the world a better place.

Friends, family celebrate judge's life

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The Telegraph
JERSEYVILLE — The Jersey County Circuit courtroom of former Jersey County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Russell was filled to capacity Friday afternoon for a celebration of life for the late jurist who died in a plane crash in Guatemala earlier this month.
Guatemalan authorities said that Russell, who retired from the bench early to serve the people of Guatemala, died when the plane he was piloting crashed in a mountainous region.
The news of the death of the 62-year-old was universally received with sadness and shock by all who had known him.
Friday’s celebration was coordinated by Alton attorney Lee Barron and Jersey County 7th Judicial Court Judge Eric Pistorious. The officiant was John Williams, a Principia College professor who was a friend, fellow member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, and former campaign manager for Russell’s first bid for the office in 1990, which Russell won.
Russell, who was raised in California, was a graduate of Stanford University and received his law degree from McGeorge School of Law of the University of the Pacific. He was awarded a graduate diploma in comparative law from the Center of International Studies of Salzburg University.
Russell moved to the Jersey County area in 1978 when his then wife got a job with Principia College. He got his Illinois law degree and spent five years as a practicing attorney with the law firm of Moore and Goetten where he made partner in 1981, then was appointed associate judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit in 1983.
According to his biography, Russell was recognized for his commitment to ethics, integrity and civility. He was respected by the bench and the bar and on at least two occasions the State Supreme Court appointed him to hear particularly sensitive cases. And prior to his appointment to the bench, he was also a part-time assistant Jersey County State’s Attorney.
Russell actively supported the Jerseyville community; was a member of the Jerseyville Rotary Club, co-chair of the Jersey County United Way campaign in 1982, a member of the Regional Planning Committee of the state’s Department of Children and Family Services, served on the Board of Directors for the Great Rivers Land Trust, and volunteered with the Piasa Bird Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and supported the Oasis Women’s Center in Alton.
After his retirement from the bench, Russell continued a full range of activities in his home communities in Colorado and Guatemala.
Friday the courtroom was full of area attorneys, judges, friends, former co-workers, college friends, and community members whose lives were touched by Russell, as well as by his two sons and brother.
"He was the most intelligent person and kindest person I have ever met in my life," Pistorious said of Russell in his remarks Friday.
Russell’s younger and only brother, James "Jimmy" Russell, of Clovis, Ca., said he and his brother never had one moment of sibling rivalry, and always supported each other in their respective goals, even though "Tommy" was, as Judge Pistorious said, "scary smart."
"Dad always said Tommy dwelled in the metaphysical world while the rest of us dwelled on earth," James Russell said. "We had the sweetest and dearest friendship. But I am so mad at my brother for bailing out on me, but he died doing what he loved to do."
James Russell said while their father is deceased, their mother, who is 87, and has been ill since Tom Russell’s birth, for the first time in that James Russell could recall, cried when he told her of Tom Russell’s death.
"I loved my brother and had the greatest brother in the world," he said. "I really wanted to be with him until his teeth fell out."
"Tom wanted to make the world a better place and he did that for us; he made our world a better place," Margarette Trushel, of Oasis Women’s Center said.

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