Getz Funeral Home
Las Cruces, NM 88001-3001
(575) 526-2419
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Russell Phipps

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Russell Phipps Obituary
Russell Edward Phipps, Sr., 77, of Las Cruces, N.M., passed from this world on Jan. 28, 2013. He was born on March 19, 1935, at the Pecos Mill Mining Camp near Glorietta, N.M., to Troy and Cleo Phipps. When he was two years old the family moved to Hanover, N.M., where Russell's father worked in the mining industry. Growing up in the mining community, Russell quickly earned the nickname "Tuffy," a name that described him throughout his life. When Russell was 12, the family moved to Hot Springs, N.M. He attended Hot Springs High School, where he lettered in five varsity sports. Upon graduating in the top 10 percent of his class in 1953, Russell moved to Fry, N.M., where he entered the grocery business with his eventual brother-in-law. While living in Arizona he continued to court his high school sweetheart, Adele, marrying her on Aug. 8, 1955. Two year later the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Russell Jr. Wanting to make a better life for themselves, the young family moved to Las Cruces, N.M. where Russell worked nights as a butcher to put himself through college. Russell attended school at New Mexico A&M (later renamed New Mexico State University). He graduated with a master's degree in Education and entered into a profession that would become his life's passion: teaching. He began his career as a 7th grade teacher at Gadsden Junior High, where he distinguished himself by developing a math program that would eventually be adopted across the United States. Within a year and a half Russell was promoted to teaching principal at La Mesa Elementary School, and then to head principal at San Miguel Elementary School. While working in this capacity, he developed a special education program that remains in existence in the Gadsden school district today, and he was rewarded for his leadership by being elected president of the New Mexico Association of Elementary School Principals in 1971. After two years at San Miguel Elementary Russell, he was asked to serve concurrently as principal at Mesquite Elementary as well, a role he filled for six years. He then spent two years at Anthony Elementary before requesting to return to San Miguel Elementary. He remained principal at San Miguel until 1990, when he decided to retire to enjoy life with his wife, Adele. However, in 1992, he was asked to come out of retirement to serve as principal of Mount Cristo Rey Challenge High School, an alternative school in the Gadsden school district. Serving in such a capacity was Russell's dream, and the years he worked here were some of his fondest of his career. The elation of those years was quickly diminished by two events. First, his wife and best friend of 39 years was taken by cancer on July 2, 1993. Then, the district elected to close Mount Cristo Rey. Russell finished his career soon thereafter at Santa Teresa High School, fully retiring from education in 1996. In 2002 Russell again found love, marrying longtime friend Theresa Dunn-Jenkins at Mission Lutheran Church, where they were both members. Soon after they wed, Russell and Theresa discovered a shared interest in traveling, and together they were able to visit many locations throughout the country. Theresa remained by his side through his final days and her presence gave him a tremendous amount of peace and comfort. Besides teaching, Russell loved the outdoors and spent a great deal of time camping, fishing and hunting with his family. He was most at peace sitting beside a solitary stream, fishing pole in hand, with his children and grandchildren by his side. He touched a tremendous amount of lives and his passing comes as a great loss to his family, his community and his friends. Russell is predeceased by his first wife, Adele, his parents Troy and Cleo, and his sister, Doris Jean. He is survived by his wife Theresa; his children Russell and Kathryn; his stepchildren Phil, Paul, Janie and Catherine; his grandchildren Mark, Nathan, Corrie, Thomas, Jacqueline and Kamala; and his great-grandchildren Ashlyn, Ryan and John. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 at 1 p.m. at Getz Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in the memory of Russell E. Phipps to the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch. Arrangements by Getz Funeral Home and Getz Family Crematory, corner of Solano and Bowman Aves., Las Cruces, NM. 526-2419. To sign our local online guest book go to
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Feb. 1, 2013
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