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Russell Bennett Cummings

Russell Bennett Cummings Russell Bennett Cummings died on April 18th as a result of cancer. He wrote his own obituary that follows. I was born in Houston, Texas October 6, 1925 at "old" Methodist Hospital. I attended public schools: Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Sidney Lanier Junior High and Mirabeau B. Lamar High School, graduating in 1942, when I was 16 years old. My father was Glen Souter Cumings, who was descended from William Cumings, one of Stephen F. Austin's "old 300" families who established the original settlement in Austin's colony. My mother was Florella Vera Cummings, a Daughter of the American Revolution. After graduating from high school at age 16, I attended Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas. Then I followed my brother in joining the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corp. I marched down Canal Street in the Armistice Day parade on November 11, 1943. I graduated from Kings Point, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1945 with a license to sail as Third Officer on any merchant ship in any ocean of the world and a commission as Ensign, U.S.N.R. I attended the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston to accumulate enough college additional hours to add to the war-shortened course at Kings Point to earn my BS in Transportation. I met my life partner, Dorothy Hensley, in September of 1948, where she was the receptionist and switchboard operator. We became engaged on Valentine's Day 1949 and we were married in the First Methodist Church in Houston on June 25, 1949. We had two children, David Malcolm (1950) and Karen Ann (1952), who have both made us very proud. Our outstanding grandsons are Russell Bennett Lang and Carl Thompson Norwood. I became interested in politics and joined the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce. I was appointed chairman of the Jaycees Americanism Committee and at our first meeting planned the first "Old Fashion Fourth of July Celebration" to be held in Herman Park complete with a fireworks show, military band, patriotic speaker, free American flags and a terrific traffic jam. We had hoped for 1500 people to show up; newspapers estimated that 35, 000 people actually attended. I was elected Vice President of the Houston chapter of Texas Service Station Association, Secretary-Treasurer of the Houston Movers Association and President of Richwood Civic Club, where we lived from 1955 to 1973. I was also elected President of the Houston Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1960, an honor that also led to my appointment as a director of the Houston Chamber of Commerce and as a Director of the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo. That experience led me to run, in 1962, for the Democratic nomination for State Representative in Harris County. I served two terms (four years; two regular sessions and two special sessions) representing. I served on the House Appropriations Committee, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Transportation Committee, House Administration Committee, Penitentiary Committee, and Public Education Committee, where I was Vice Chairman. In 1973, I became Executive Director of the Texas Mass Transportation Commission. I retired from the Texas Department of Transportation in 1993. My experience as a member of the Legislature led to my playing a role in passing "open meetings" and "open beaches" legislation. I was House author of legislation to permit independent school districts to provide free kindergarten, I passed a bill for the Texas Nurses Association, formalizing professional practices, I passed a bill for Texas Fish Farmers and the first "work release program" that let non-violent criminals work "outside". After retiring from the State of Texas, we moved our ranch in Hamilton in 1994. We have raised Brangus cattle. Our ranch was the third one in Texas to be certified as a Texas Quality Beef Producer by the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association. I'll be buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, on Tuesday, April 22 at 1:00 p.m. The cemetery has, since 1851, served as the final resting place for numerous soldiers and founders of the Republic and State of Texas, elected officials, jurists and other prominent men and women "who have made a significant contribution to Texas history, government and culture". Stephen F. Austin, Texas governors, legislators, judges, along with some 2200 Confederate soldiers. Cemetery website at www.cemetery.state.tx.us In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to, Russell Cummings Nursing Scholarship, McLennan Community College, 1400 College Drive, Waco, Texas 76705 or www.mclennan.edu (click on Foundation). " It has been a great life and I am pleased with the way it has all turned out; for me, my wife and my children too. I hope you all are as content as I am, as I start the next stage of this experience. " Obituary and guestbook online at http://wcfish.com

Published in Austin American-Statesman on Apr. 20, 2008
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