Dr. Richard Russell: long time New Albany physician & community leader, full obituary

August 29th, 2022     Featured News General News


Dr. Richard H. Russell died on August 28, 2022. He was born on May 3, 1942 in his family home in the Hurricane Community in Pontotoc County. He was the youngest child born to Robert Kendall Russell and Ida Warren Russell, who were 63 and 42 respectively on the date of his birth. He had nine siblings whom he knew and two who died before his birth. He survived all of them. He leaves his wife, Jackie Bass Russell, three children, Regan Russell (Mary Jennifer); Sandy Sullivan (Vic) and Melissa Russell, and four grandchildren, Sylvie Russell, Will Sullivan, George Sullivan and Paige Carruth.

Dr. Russell graduated valedictorian from the Hurricane school system in 1960, top of his class at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in 1965, and in 1971 from the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson, where he simultaneously worked as a part-time pharmacist and taught pharmacology to nursing students at St. Dominic Hospital. He served a one-year internship in Savannah, Georgia, where a staff physician called the Mississippi doctors (including Dr. Sam Creekmore) the best interns they had ever had, before choosing New Albany as his forever home. He never thereafter doubted that he had made a wise choice.

At the Union County Hospital, later Baptist Memorial-Union County, he proudly delivered approximately 2,000 babies, co-ran the emergency room night and day for seven years, served as New Albany’s first I.C.U. Director, served three terms as Chief of Staff, and played an instrumental role in convincing Baptist to take over the Union County Hospital. He was very proud that the New Albany Medical Community grew from five doctors the day before he and Dr. Creekmore arrived to a thriving local medical community with a hospital recently voted the Best Small Hospital in the State of Mississippi. He also served his community in various ways, including as the Union County Republican Chairman and on the New Albany School Board.

Richard was born into a rich community where he was surrounded by family and friends, and he carried a love of community all through his life. During his thirty-nine years of practice as a Family Practice Physician in New Albany, Verona and at the University of Mississippi, he rarely passed a day without meeting someone he called a cousin, and he never went a day without meeting someone he called friend. He was loved by many of his patients because of his fondness for them, his familiarity with their families and family histories, and his gentle and friendly spirit. A pharmaceutical salesman once added that you could always count on Dr. Russell to tell you “one good joke – and two bad ones”.

In his later years Dr. Russell often reflected upon how lucky he had been to know so many people, to serve them and their families, particularly in their times of deepest need, many times to sit with them in their last moments, and to enjoy his patients’ frequent expressions of appreciation and affection for him. In his retirement he greatly enjoyed hearing of the many people who would ask about him and more specifically would request that he be told they sent their best wishes. They nearly always said, “He will remember me”. His response to such news was invariably to smile and say that person was his friend. If anyone counts themselves as one of those, please know that he valued your friendship greatly.

Visitation will be at the First United Methodist Church on Tuesday, August 30, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The funeral will be at the First United Methodist Church in New Albany on Wednesday, August 31, 2022, at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you offer a donation in his memory to the Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo or to the American Heart Association.

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