In Memory of




Obituary for James M. Russell

It is with deep sadness that Patti and I announce the passing of our father, James M. Russell. Our dad, who went by Jim, passed peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday March 28th at the age of 84. We pray he has reunited with his love and our mother Mildred (Dee) who passed away in the summer of 2002. He loved to see and hear the activities of his grandchildren Aidan, Gavin, Grace and Quinlan and no doubt he is relaying stories to mom.

An Irvine resident for over 50 years, dad was heavily involved in our youth sporting endeavors coaching several of our Little League, Bobby Sox, Flag football and Junior All American youth tackle football teams. I remember dad burning out his lawnmower each spring mowing down the weeds at the baseball / softball fields until the city built Harvard Athletic Park and many long nights at Ron Lefebre's pitching school. When we reached high school, he and mom joined the Woodbridge High athletic booster clubs and then UCSB & Oregon State as Patti and I continued with athletics into college.

Dad was the youngest of three boys born to William Emmet and Margaret Claire Russell of Omaha Nebraska and moved to the San Fernando Valley as a young boy. He graduated from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. After taking a few classes at the local JC, he enlisted and followed in his older brother Bob's footsteps into the Army. He was trained as an MP (Military Police Officer) and attained the rank of SP4 E-4 while serving at several locations including a 13-month tour in Korea. He returned home to Los Angeles after the service and attempted to join the police force but was denied due to his vision (back then you were disqualified if you needed glasses).

Dad fell back on his business courses and landed a position with Title Insurance and Trust in Los Angeles as a Senior Title Officer. It was through work and a church social that he met and later married our mother, Dee Walther. They realized they had been routinely speaking over the phone as mom worked at the bank that TI was using for title and trust business.

After Patti and I were born, dad accepted a position with the Santa Ana based company Dunn Properties and moved the family down to a small but growing Orange County around 1970 residing in Tustin until the home in Irvine was completed in January of 1972. At the age of 32, he was promoted to vice president and projects administrator at Dunn and sometime after earned his nickname of "Tilt" as the pitcher of the company's softball team. Patti and I enjoyed the after the game pizza, root beer and quarters for this new-fangled Pong video console in the pizza joint. Dad would go on to work for several other companies over the next 30+ years including Winchell’s and Little Caesars.

Dad enjoyed 1950s music, hot rod cars (1957 Chevy favorite), Far Side & Calvin & Hobbs comics, football, baseball/softball and attending his four grandchildren’s athletic events.

James is survived by his son Bill and daughter Patti, daughter in law Bethanie, son in law Todd, grandchildren, Aidan, Gavin, Grace and Quinlan and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded by his wife Dee, older brothers Bill and Bob, parents William and Margaret and sister-in-law Natalie.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Wednesday April 26th, 12:00pm, at Woodbridge Community Church. Dress will be Island Casual (Hawaiian theme) in honor of dad's joy of the Hawaiian Islands followed by a brief reception. Guests are welcome to join the family at Ascension Cemetery in Lake Forest.