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Helen T. Russell

Obituary for Helen T. Russell

July 18, 1925 - March 20, 2018
Austin, Texas | Age 92


Helen Thompson Russell was born on July 18, 1925 in East Texas, daughter of Jodie and Dora Thompson. Helen passed away on March 20, 2018 in Austin, Texas with family by her side. She gave the many people whom she loved 92 full, healthy, and thoroughly wonderful years. Helen was united in marriage to Owen "Russ" Russell in 1949, and they were married for 62 years filled with love, travel, hard work and lots of fun. Russell preceded her in death on December 3, 2011. Helen's spirit is carried on by her two children, Ken Russell (wife Linda) and Karen King (husband Bob); and her five grandchildren: Irene Neumann (husband Joerg), Kevin King (wife Sarah), Michael King, Kenny Russell (wife Sarah), Robin Wingate (husband George), and seven great-grandchildren: Isabel, Sophia, Taylor, Kathryn, Jonathan, George, and Austin (with another one on the way at the time of her passing). All her grandchildren knew her affectionately as their "Oma." As one of six children, Helen also enjoyed the tremendous affections of her siblings, nieces, and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brother J.T. Thompson, and two sisters Beni Dean and Marcia Davis, and is survived by her brother Norv Thompson and sister Doris Viator. A beautiful person in every way, Helen Russell will also be missed by a great many people beyond the family who knew her as a thoughtful and loyal friend.

Helen grew up a true Texan on a farm (many farms actually through years of very hard times) and was taught at an early age to live frugally and to take responsibility for her five siblings. As her father often declared later of those times, it was "Root, hog, or die." Perhaps it was in part due to this early role that Helen became what remained her entire life: a kind, caring, smart, responsible, and incredibly nurturing human being.

After moving to Austin after World War II and marrying her "sweetie" Russell, this couple on the move embarked on a lifetime of geographic adventure, as Russell's flying careers took them as far away as Japan and Okinawa and later to stateside assignments in Texas, Kansas, New York, Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio. Helen and Russell especially loved their 16 years in San Antonio, but they moved back to Austin in 1997 to be closer to family, especially as it grew to include the delightful members of the next generation.

Helen's love of new challenges endured throughout her life, as did an active interest in international travel. Some of her more exotic destinations included: Machu Picchu with her daughter and son-in-law at the age of 80, the Soviet Union, China, and India with her sister, Beni, a trip behind the Iron Curtain to Eastern Europe with her sister Marcia, and countless trips with Russell to Australia, New Zealand, France, and England.

This spirit of adventure spilled over in other areas of her life, as for instance when she took grandchildren horseback riding and river rafting in West Texas and followed in the footsteps of her beloved husband by soloing in a single engine Cessna at the age of 52. Helen also tried parasailing over the ocean on a trip with her brother Norve and his wife, while vacationing in Mexico.

Helen was one of the most elegant women you would ever meet. She had tremendous style and a penchant for cheerful colors. She was extremely skilled in sewing and cooking and passionately passed down these skills to others, especially children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. Helen enjoyed reading books, watching movies, and rooting for her favorite sports team, the San Antonio Spurs. She started playing bridge after meeting Russell and continued to do so regularly up until a month before she died. In fact, some of her best bridge playing occurred in the last year of her life.

Helen Russell was an exceptional woman in every way and will be missed by so many who had the great fortune to know her. A longtime hospital volunteer when she lived in San Antonio, Helen was a woman of faith her entire life who believed deeply in charity. Instead of flowers, we ask that you give to a worthy cause in her name. We also feel sure she would welcome flowers that you plant in your garden on her behalf. Thinking of others to the last, Helen sent family birthday cards just a week before she died and insisted that visitors at her bedside be provided with food and drink. A nurturer to the end, she courageously provided solace to those closest to her, wishing for them (for us!) long, fulfilling, and happy lives.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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