Robert Trent Russell passed away Wednesday, February 1 in Morristown, Tennessee from natural causes; he was 81 years old. Russell was born in December 1941 in Morristown. He attended Morristown-Hamblen East High School, where he met Georganna Slabbekorn; the two wed in May 1961. Russell served in the US Air Force from 1963-1967, receiving Vietnam Service Medals in 1966 and 1967. Upon returning to the states, Russell attended the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he earned BS and MS degrees. In 1970, he became one of the original faculty members of Walters State Community College, achieving the rank of Associate Professor while teaching courses in construction, manufacturing, engineering and architectural drawing and CAD. He retired in 1999, establishing a Walters State Foundation Endowment to assist future technology students through awarded scholarships.
Russell’s post-retirement work included both professional and charitable activities. He assisted the Veterans Administration part-time for 20 years in Special Adaptive Housing design processes providing handicapped accessibility in Veterans’ homes. As an active member of the Vietnam Veterans’ Association Chapter #1073 he developed and brought to fruition several programs including the “Duffel Bag Program” for homeless veterans and providing new US flags for classrooms in our region. He was also a life member of VFW #5266 and DAV.
Russell was a founding member of the Hamblen County Car Club, serving as Vice President and President for several years. Growing up in the 50’s, cars and “Hot Rods” were a major part of most young men’s lives. Working on and building cars from the 40’s and 50’s was a fantastic hobby and pastime, and something he took up again during his retirement. Russell owned and enjoyed a number of those fantastic autos, joking that more people knew his cars than knew him.
Russell is survived by his wife, Georganna; his son Andrew, daughter-in-law Andrea and granddaughter Elise Russell; son Rob Russell and grandchildren Kieran, Lucinda, and Declan Russell-Berry; and his dog, Dylan. There will be no service because, according to Russell, “It’s too late for prayers. I think I’m OK as is.”
In lieu of flowers, donations should be made in Russell’s name to the Robert and Georganna Russell Endowment care of the WSCC Foundation, the Vietnam Veterans’ Association, or the VFW Honor Guard Ceremony fund.
Allen Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
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