In Memory of
Bob Russell

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Bob Russell
1966 Yearbook Photo 
 

 

April 27, 1997

 

FACULTY Robert William “Bob” Russell (47)

Monterey Peninsula Herald, CA April 27, 1990

Robert W. Russell, Pacific Grove teacher

Robert William Russell, 47, a Pacific Grove High School teacher and former citycounclman who was elected last year to the Monterey Peninsula Water management District board, died Friday after the failure of a liver transplant he had six months ago. Mr. Russell was hospitalized at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco about five weeks ago. His own liver failed last August because of chronic hepatitis contrcted from blood he received during surgery for cancer in the 1970s. He received a transplant last October. Born in San Francisco, Mr. Russell received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri. He was a history teacher and a soccer and football coach at Pacific Grove High for 25 years. Mr. Russell was elected to the water district board last fall. In 1977 he headed a coalitition that successfully campaigned for approval of a proposed dam on the Carmel River. Before getting into Monterey Peninsula water politics, Mr. Russell served as a Pacific Grove city councilman for five years. He resigned in November 1987, married Linda Boyd of Carmel and moved into a house outside Carmel with his wife and their eight children. The children are sons Scott and Jeffrey Russell of Pacific Grove and Tony Boyd of Carmel, and daughters Sara and Mallory Russell of Pacific Grove and Cindy, Patty and Angela Boyd of Carmel. Mr. Russell also leaves a brother, Allen Russell of Kansas City, Mo., and a sister, Nancy Gabbert of Monterey. A memorial service is scheduled at the high school Monday at 2:10 p.m. A second memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. May 6 at the Carmel Presbyterian Church.

Monterey Peninsula Herald, CA Oct 22, 1989, page 5A

P.G. history teacher receives new liver

Bob Russell, a well-known history teacher at Pacific Grove High School, received a new liver Saturday during an eight-hour operation at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. Russell, 47, was ‘doing great’ while recovering in the hospital’s intensive care unit, said his wife, Linda. “He’s beating all the averages,” Mrs. Russell said last night. “The doctors said he was much better than average. They said he’s just doing great.” Russell’s liver failed in August because of chronic hepatitis he obtained from blood he received during cancer surgery in the 1970s. He obtained his new liver from someone who died in Oakland on Friday. Mrs. Russell said the couple was told nothing more about the donor. “It gives you mixed feelings,” she said. “We’re certainly not glad someone had to died to give Bob life, but we are certainly grateful for the new organ.” Russell was called to the hospital Friday afternoon. The transplant surgery started about 5 a.m. Saturday. The surgery was faster than expected and Russell required less blood than expected, Mrs. Russell said. He was conscious last night and talking, she said. His prognosis for full recovery was “really good,” Mrs. Russell said. She said she expected him to be transferred from the intensive care unit in a few days. Russell has said that liver transplant patients at the UC Medical Center have an 85 percent chance for full recovery and a normal life expectancy. “The prognosis is just excellent,” he said in a recent interview. “It’s a lot different from what most people think.” Russell, who lives in Carmel, is currently a candidate for a seat on the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District’s board. The election is in about two weeks on Nov. 7. Russell said last week that he decided not to give up his candidacy because the liver transplant should interfere only with his campaign, not the four-year term he is seeking. He said he was using his medical leave this semester to reread some of the water district’s reports. A former Pacific Grove City Council member, Russell has been active in water groups on the Peninsula. Two years ago he chaired the Coalition for a Secure Water Supply, an organization of environmentalists and businesses that supported a dam-advisory vote in the 1987 election. More recently, he has chaired the Residents Water Committee, an organization that passed petitions this summer, calling for limits on new water connections while the Peninsula is rationing.

Monterey Peninsula Herald, CA April 27, 1990

Bob Russell, P.G. High teacher, water board member, dies at 48

By Kevin Howe / Herald Staff Writer

Robert William Russell, 48, of Carmel, a well-known Pacific Grove High School teacher and former Pacific Grove councilman who was recently elected to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District board, died Friday morning at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco of liver failure. The liver he received in a transplant in October had failed, a hospital spokeswoman said, and death came at 3:33 a.m. His own liver failed in August because of chronic hepatitis he contracted through blood he received during cancer surgery in the 1970s. Mr. Russell, who was known as Bob, had been a history teacher and coach at Pacific Grove High School for the past 25 years. He served as a Pacific Grove City Council member from 1982 until he moved to Carmel in 1987. He was elected to the water district board in November by a landslide margin. Born in San Francisco on Feb. 7, 1942, he graduated with a landslide margin. Born in San Francisco on Feb. 7, 1942, he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree and a master’s degree in education from the University of Missouri in 1965 and came to teach at Pacific Grove High School that same year. Don Curley, assistant superintendent for personnel and instruction in the Pacific Grove Unified School District, said Mr. Russell taught freshman world history. Every four years he would teach a special unit on the U.S. presidential election during the election year. Curley said Mr. Russell also taught the high school’s college-level advanced placement European history course, which students could apply toward college credit. For the past 10 years he taught the freshman and sophomore honors social studies course. Mr. Russell was one of the first mentor teachers in the state when the mentor teacher program was established seven years ago, Curley said. Outside the classroom he coached freshman football and basketball, was P.G. High’s first soccer coach and would challenge his students at lunch hour with trivia contests. “He was a top teacher,” Curley said, “with high expectations, and he maintained them all those years. The kids respected him, liked his class, knew what the standards were.” Even those who couldn’t meet those standards, Curley said, thought well of their teacher. When Mr. Russell was proposed as a candidate for the first Allen Griffin Award for excellence in teaching, Curley said, one of his students remarked, “He gave me an F, but he’s still the best teacher. That tells you something.” He recalled that Mr. Russell never forgot his old alma mater. “He was a real advocate of the University of Missouri Tigers,” he sad. “He’d go anyplace in reasonable distance to see them play.” As a college senior, Curley said Mr. Russell had been a volunteer tutor to the “Old Blue” team athletes. “That was a special interest he carried over into his career.” P.G. High Principal Robert Sutton, who came to the school last fall, said that “I didn’t get a chance to know Bob nearly as well as I would have liked.” “I not only observed an outstanding teacher but also an outstanding person, one who had tremendous courage and whose positive spirit was something we all looked up to.” Mr. Russell’s fellow teachers remember him as a dynamic performer in the classroom. Lillian Griffiths, who teaches government and U.S. history at the school, took over his honors class. She had known him since 1967. “I was a student of his,” she said. “He was very special, very dynamic. He loved academics and knowledge and believed in giving them to his students in the best way he possibly could. He had the gift of exciting even a lackluster student.” Ellen Coulter, who teaches honors English, said her students considered Mr. Russell a living version of the character played by Ribon Williams in the film “Dead Poets Society.” “They’ve written things on my blackboard like ‘Oh Captain, My Captain,’” she said. “wonderful things, about how he touched their lives.” She and other teachers have received calls from former students, “old alumni who want to be at the memorial services,” Mrs. Coulter said. “A boy called and said he would like to have some access to Bob’s files, because he wants to teach history someday like he did.” Messages about him were being posted in the school library, with the Latin motto, “Carpe Diem” (“Seize the day”) in the center. “That’s what Bob did,” Mrs. Coulter said, “seize the day.” She recalled that Mr. Russell’s classroom symbol “was his meter stick, which he used to punctuate his points quite vividly, and which he often broke. “He was one of those incredible teachers who are never down, always on stage. His energy level was just incredible. He seemed to be on stage all the time.” Barbara Woolman, who teaches advanced placement American history, economics and U.S. history, described him as “the most dramatic teacher I’ve ever known. It was hard work for us to keep up with his energy. “We always called him ‘God,’” she said. “We’d joke about how ‘God’ is going to do this, ‘God’ is going to do that. Now I think heaven has probably become a benevolent dictatorship.” Ms. Griffiths said the teachers and faculty at the high school are organizing a scholarship fund in his memory. Pacific Grove Mayor Morris Fisher said Friday that “I was personally saddened by his death. It came too soon in life. There was so much in front of him to accomplish and he would have accomplished whatever he set out to do.” Fisher added that he and Mr. Russell campaigned together for city office “and I had so much respect for him that I appointed him as my vice mayor.” When Mr. Russell left Pacific Grove, Fisher said, “I was saddened then because we had worked very well together. When he was elected to the Water Management District we were again sitting next to each other in a governing body and that was really great. “The citizens of the Monterey Peninsula will miss his abilities,” Fisher said. “I think it will take a long time for someone with his abilities to come around again.” Fisher said Mr. Russell treated his medical condition with a great deal of humor and had hoped for the best after the transplant. "“He was so happy and excited,"”Fisher recalled. "“He used to say his average body parts are younger than his brother's.” Mr. Russell and fellow water board member Dale Hekuis chaired the Residents Water Committee, an organization that passed petitions last summer calling for limits on new water connections while the Peninsula is on rationing. Two years earlier, Mr. Russell had chaired a coalition of environmentalists and businesses that successfully campaigned for voter approval of a proposed dam on the Carmel River. The board of the Water Management District has 60 days to decide how to replace Mr. Russell, according to board chairman Dick Heuer. Three previous vacancies – one due to death, two to resignations have been filled by appointment, he said. Applications would be solicited, then the rest of the board would vote on the appointment, Heuer said. The new board member would serve until the next election, which would be in November 1991, he said. Mr. Russell was a member of Carmel Presbyterian Church and the Scottish Society of the Monterey Peninsula. He was an avid fisherman. He is survived by his wife, Linda; three sons, Scott and Jeffrey Russell of Pacific Grove and Tony Boyd of Carmel, and five daughters, Sara and Mallory of Pacific Grove and Cindy, Patty and Angela Boyd, all of Carmel; a sister, Nancy Gabbert of Monterey, and a brother, Allen of Kansas City, Mo. A memorial service will be held Monday at 1:20 p.m. in the Pacific Grove High School gymnasium. A second memorial will take place may 6 at 3 p.m. at Carmel Presbyterian Church. Private cremation will be held at the Little Chapel by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, under the direction of the Paul Mortuary. The family suggests that any memorial contributions be sent to the Mount Herman Conference Center, Mount Herman 95041, or the Carmel Presbyterian Church Deacon’s Fund.

 

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