Donald M. Russell
Russell, Donald M.
Donald M. Russell 93, born in Quincy, MA, passed away on February 2, 2021 in Plano, TX after a brief illness.
He graduated from Quincy High school in 1945 and enlisted in the US Coast Guard. When he returned and did a Post Graduate year at Thayer Academy in Braintree, MA. He then attended Bates College in Lewiston, ME and graduated in 1951. He played offensive and defensive tackle for the Bates College football team. After graduating from Bates, Russell was a high school social studies teacher and coach at Hollis High School in Hollis, ME, assistant football coach and headmaster at Thornton Academy in Saco, ME and Turner Falls High School in Turners Falls, MA where he taught social studies coached football, basketball and baseball and was the athletic director.
In 1960, Russell joined the coaching staff at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT as the freshman football, basketball and baseball coach. Russell took over as the head football coach in June 1964. He became Wesleyan's athletic director and chairman of the physical education department in 1968. His best season at Wesleyan as a coach was in 1969 when he led the Wesleyan Cardinals football team to an undefeated, untied 8–0 record. He was named New England Small College Coach of the Year while the team tied for the Lambert Cup. He led Wesleyan to Little Three football championships in 1966, 1969 and 1970. He served in leadership positions with the NCAA, ECAC and was a founding member of NESCAC.
He was very active in the Middletown community. He was a member of the Board of Education, the Common Council, Police Commission, Fire Commission, Chairman of the Middlesex United Way Annual Campaign, Board of Corporators of Middlesex Hospital, Palmer Field Renovation Committee, Park and Rec Commission, the Republican Town Committee and the Middletown Rotary Club.
Upon retirement, Don and Joyce split their time between Jekyll Island, GA and Lake ST Catherine's, Poultney, VT until they relocated to Plano TX in 2003. While in Plano he continued his love of football by attending many Friday night high school games. He also played some of the best golf of his life in his 80's and had three holes in one.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Joyce Hughes Russell; his children Beth Russell Campo and Norm of Barre, VT, Cathy Russell Pleines of Marshfield, MA, Andy Russell and Pam of Old Lyme, CT, Debbie Russell Smith and Andy of Woodbury, CT and his first wife, Helen O. Russell of Niantic, CT the mother of his four children. He also leaves behind Joyce's children; Jayne Creelman of Van Alstyne, TX and Ralph Eric Ellis and Michele of Palm Harbor, FL. He has 14 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, George Cameron Russell, Lillian McIntosh Russell and his brother George.
There are no services planned at this time due to Covid-19. A quote from Don Russell from his high school yearbook was: He is one who has left a name behind him. Could not be better said.
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Published by Middletown Press on Feb. 5, 2021.
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7 Entries
Don was a community asset while at Wesleyan. Wherever he served he served well and made a meaningful contribution. It was a joy to have him as United Way campaign chair and work on Rotary projects with him. He is remembered very fondly. Blessings on all who mourn his loss.
Patti Anne Vassia
Coworker
February 18, 2021
Don was a community asset while at Wesleyan. Wherever he served he served well and made a meaningful contribution. It was a joy to have him as United Way campaign chair and work on Rotary projects with him. He is remembered very fondly. Blessings on all who mourn his loss.
Patti Anne Vassia
Coworker
February 18, 2021
My most sincere condolences go to the family of Don Russell. Don was a great coach- his record speaks for itself. In addition he was a very active and highly effective participant in Middletown politics serving on various Boards and Committees and including the Common Council. Don Russell was smart and hardworking as a Councilman. His participation at the Council meetings benefited everyone in the community. He worked with his good friends Anthony Sbona, Vincent Amato, Norm Daniels, Willard McRae, Dr. Christy Mcleod, Tom Lineberry and others to make Middletown a great and safe place to live. He was a soft spoken gentlemen but when he spoke people listened. Rest in peace.
Bill Corvo

WILLIAM J. CORVO
Friend
February 11, 2021
I played Wesleyan football for Don Russell from 1968 through 1970, as well as Freshman baseball in 1968. To this day, it's hard for me to think of him as anything besides 'Coach Russell'...but as many of my teammates have observed, he was so much more. Along with my parents and one or two others, he was one of the people who had the profoundest positive influence on my life, and I'm grateful I got to tell him (and Joyce) just that before we lost him. Don't mind saying...I'm having a hard time coming to grips with a world that doesn't have Don Russell in it. Thank you Coach...for everything. Michael Kishbauch, Wesleyan '71
Michael Kishbauch
Student
February 6, 2021
r i p good man
Terry O'rourke
Friend
February 6, 2021
Coach Russell was a wonderful mentor to many young men. I had the privilege of playing Wesleyan Football for him from 1967 through 1969. He was admired and respected by his players and his colleagues. Our sincere sympathy goes out to his wife, Joyce and all the Russell family.
Sincerely,

Charlie and Leslie Holbrook
Charles Holbrook
Friend
February 5, 2021
Joyce, I’m so sorry for your loss! I knew Don as a quiet gentleman, having a wealth of knowledge and always a competitive sportsman. You have my condolences and deepest sympathy!
Steven Sumner
Friend
February 5, 2021
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