George Ely Russell Jr., 85, passed away January 9, 2013 at his home in Ijamsville, MD. He was the husband of Donna Valley Russell for 31 years.
George was born November 24, 1927 in Niagara Falls, NY, the son of George Ely Russell Sr. and Dorothy Powell Russell.
Including childhood summer camps, military service stations and family residences, George had lived in at least 50 different places in nine different states, Canada and Germany. When George was 10, he enjoyed living at "The Ely Old Place" in Westernville, NY with his mother and sister Ann.
"Looking back on my life in this small village, I remember day after day of childish activities, play, games and amusements. Bicycle riding, sledding and tobogganing in the winter, Halloween pranks, snowball fights, snow fort building, swimming in Delta Lake, speedboating around the lake, hide and seek games, visiting friends, picking up mail from Marie Bingham at her home post office, listening to the Hit Parade and I Love a Mystery on my push-button radio, playing card games and backgammon with Aunt Mildred, archery in the range set up below our garden, sneaking into and exploring the abandoned canning factory, sliding down the grain chutes in the feed mill, setting off fireworks on July 4th, and the countless other innocent activities available to a boy in a small town."
At age 15, George contributed to the World War II effort volunteering "as an enemy airplane spotter on a hilltop near Westernville, Oneida County, New York. My training for this task was a book of German bomber plane profiles. But my duty was only at night. Our assignment was to listen for airplanes and, if any were heard, to telephone an alert to our headquarters. The Germans never arrived."
George attended Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH) and The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH). George was employed for 26 years in Federal military and civil service. As part of his four years of service in the U.S. Army, he was a corporal stationed in Frankfurt, Germany acting as a clinical psychology technician at the 97th General Hospital. He completed his military service in the Ohio National Guard and was honorably discharged in 1954. He retired in 1979, at which time he was the Emergency Coordinator with the Office of the Secretary, US Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Washington, DC. During his Federal service he had graduate studies at The American University (Washington, DC), the Armed Services Medical Service School (San Antonio, TX), American Management Association (New York City) and other Army schools.
Beginning at the age of 17, genealogy was George's avocation for his entire adult life. He was an elected fellow of the American Society of Genealogists and devoted much of his time to genealogical activities. George founded the Prince Georges County Genealogical Society in 1969 and served as the editor of the National Genealogical Quarterly from 1971 to 1986. As a Certified Genealogist since 1967, George was the author of more than 140 genealogical writings, articles and books. He was a contributing editor of The American Genealogist, The Russell Register, Western Maryland Genealogy and The Society of the Ark and the Dove.
George was an avid stamp collector and an active member of the Frederick Stamp Club.
George was predeceased by his first wife, Lois Taylor Russell and his son George (Jody) Burnham Russell. He is survived by his wife, Donna Valley Russell and his sister Muriel Ann (Russell) DeMuth. He will be missed by his four children; Laura Russell Thompson and husband Louis, Orange, VA; Robert Webster Russell and wife Susan, Warren, VT; Elizabeth Hamilton Russell, Elizabethtown, NY and Anne Russell LaGasse and husband Bernard, Niskayuna, NY. George was Grandpa to Michael Russell and wife Mary (great grandchildren Nicholas and Brian Russell), Syracuse, NY; Samuel LaGasse, Niskayuna, NY; Emily and Helen Thompson, Orange, VA.
Que Sera, Sera!
George's immediate family will hold a private celebration of his life. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The National Genealogical Society, 2nd Century Endowment Fund, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22204-4370. Arrangements by Keeney and Basford Funeral Home, Frederick, MD and condolences may be shared with the family at keeneybas ford.com.
Published in The Frederick News-Post on Jan. 14, 2013.