Obituary

Margaret Russell

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SIDNEY — Margaret "Margo" Russell, career journalist and editor emeritus of Coin World, died in Sidney, Ohio, on Jan. 26, 2015, at the age of 95. Throughout her life, she was often called the "First Lady of Numismatics."

She is survived by two daughters, Jenny (Michael) Barhorst, of Sidney, and Susan Russell, of El Cerrito, California; two grandchildren, Tom (Susan) Barhorst, of Mason, Ohio, and Sarah (Jason) Faber, of Piqua, Ohio; and three great-grandchildren, Joseph Barhorst and Michael and Oliver Faber.

Her husband, Marion Russell, retired editor of The Sidney Daily News, passed away in 1997.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, she moved with her parents to Sidney when she was seven years old. A Depression-era high school honor graduate, she became a reporter at the age of 17 at The Sidney Daily News, beginning her lifelong dedication to journalism.

During her career with The Sidney Daily News, she received honors for her news and feature stories, especially for her World War II coverage. Active in the Ohio Newspaper Women's Association, she represented Sidney and Shelby County as a correspondent for the Dayton Journal-Herald.

Russell transferred her writing interest to numismatic journalism, a field which had few women, when Coin World was founded in 1960. For 25 years she covered major Department of the Treasury stories at the Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco and West Point Mints, and in Washington at the United States Mint and Bureau of Engraving and Printing. She testified before both houses of Congress several times on behalf of numismatics.

She was a member of the Research Triangle Institute's advisory committee for its U.S. coinage system study and consultant to the General Services Administration as it studied a silver dollar program. She participated in the drafting of the 1973 Hobby Protection Act.

She also edited a series of Amos Press specialty publications. She proposed the concept of the Coin World Almanac and served as its managing editor. Other publications she authored included Guide to Coins, Coin Collecting for Fun and Profit, and Start Collecting Coins, a best-seller for Running Press in Philadelphia. A Coin World internship in her honor was established upon her retirement in 1986.

In 1964 Russell was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the United States Assay Commission to examine the quality of the nation's coinage. Later, as a federal appointee, she and her husband were White House guests. During her career she attended ceremonies at the White House Rose Garden, the Department of the Treasury, and the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1970 Russell was named to the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission's coins and medals advisory panel, along with 14 congressmen and national figures in art, banking and numismatics. In 1972 she became co-chair. The panel recommended three United States coins to commemorate the Bicentennial.

Russell lectured on numismatics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue University, and Roosevelt University. She holds a diploma from the Sociedad Numismatica de Mexico. She was an ambassador with a numismatic study tour to Israel and took part in a six-nation People-to-People tour, meeting with collectors and mint officials in Europe.

As an example of her reputation for unimpeachable integrity, she joined six Congressmen and a Senator for a tour of Fort Knox on Sept. 23, 1974, in an attempt to disprove rampant rumors that had spread nation-wide that the gold reserves were no longer there. In fact, there gold repository was intact, and the rumors subsided.

A charter graduate of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) School of Numismatics, she received ANA's highest honor in 1975, the Farran Zerbe award, conferred to individuals who distinguish themselves by exceptional service to the ANA and numismatics. ANA awarded her its medal of merit in 1967, its lifetime achievement award in 1993 and, in 1997, its presidential citation for exemplary contributions to the hobby. She was named ANA's "Great Lady in Numismatics" and became a member of the Hall of Fame at ANA's headquarters in Colorado Springs.

She holds the top Numismatic Literary Guild honor, the "Clemy," for writing skills, dedication to the hobby and sense of humor. Her peers voted her best writer and favorite editor over successive years. She was the first woman member of the prestigious Rittenhouse Society and the first woman and non-member to receive a Professional Numismatic Guild award.

In 1979 Russell was elected to the council of the New York-based American Numismatic Society, the second woman in history. She served on the Society's executive board and as national cultivation chairman for a $4 million endowment campaign.

In 1989, she received the Burnett Anderson Memorial Award, a triple honor from the American Numismatic Society, American Numismatic Association, and Numismatic Literary Guild. The award recognizes her career contribution to numismatics.

Russell was dedicated to her community, beginning early in life, when she represented the Orange Blossoms 4-H Club on the Shelby County Junior Fair Board. She was also a Campfire Girl and a Girl Scout leader. She was secretary and public relations officer of the mid-century Sidney City Schools Citizens Committee, which led to passage of a record bond issue for four new elementary schools and new junior and senior high schools.

In later years she served as a Sidney High School commencement speaker and was one of the founders of the Sidney High School Hall of Honor. (She was later named as an honoree.)

Russell was an officer and endowment campaign chairman for the Dorothy Love Retirement Community in Sidney and a trustee on the executive committee for the Columbus-based Ohio Presbyterian Retirement Services. She was a member of a four-county Private Industry Program Council and the Shelby County Job Training Program/Private Industry Council.

Russell was an honorary member of the Altrusa Club and held the Order of the Rose in the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority, its highest honor. She was active in the Sidney Theater Guild and in the founding of the Gateway Arts Council. A devoted member of the First Presbyterian Church in Sidney, she served as president of the Women's Association, as a Sunday School and Bible School teacher, and as a trustee and member of pastoral selection committees.

Following a private burial, a memorial service will be held at a later date at the First Presbyterian Church in Sidney.

Contributions in Russell's memory may be made to the First Presbyterian Church's Refurbish, Repurpose, and Replacing Fund, the Dorothy Love Retirement Community Life Care Fund, or the Community Foundation of Shelby County.

Arrangements are in the care of Cromes Funeral Home, 302 S. Main Ave. Guestbook condolences and expressions of sympathy may be made to the Russell family at the funeral home's website: www.cromesfh.com.


Funeral Home
Cromes Funeral Home Inc
302 S. Main Ave.
Sidney, OH 45365
937-492-5101
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Published in Sidney Daily News from Jan. 27 to Jan. 28, 2015
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