Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

September 6, 2013

Editorial: Russell led life of advocacy, activism

Bob Russell was a Renaissance man, but probably would have laughed at the description.

Russell, who died Aug. 23 at 62 years of age, was an activist and advocate, an educator and a seeker of truth, a man who inspired and was inspired to take on dozens of roles in his life. His obituary was a reflection of his thirst for knowledge and his commitment to the many communities he was a part of:

“Bob had many vocations and avocations, including: teacher, screen-printer, photographer, downtown Traverse City business owner (Ernie’s Soft Earthwares), co-founder of the first local internet business (Traverse Communications Company), longtime environmental/peace activist, gearhead, past chairman of the Grand Traverse County Solid Waste Council and Department of Public Works, community organizer, web developer, handyman, cook, father, husband, son, and fun-haver.”

But even that description doesn’t adequately reflect Russell’s impact on the Grand Traverse area. As chairman of the Grand Traverse Board of Public Works he led the charge to turn the plant into a truly state-of-the-art facility that discharges water of drinking water clarity into the Boardman River.

He pushed the county create a septage treatment plant to further protect the environment that, if county officials had listened to his advice, would not have turned into the financial albatross it has become.

“The guy was brilliant,” said Grand Traverse County Commissioner Larry Inman, who served on the county’s solid waste committee. “There wasn’t anybody who had more knowledge and foresight about solid waste and recyclables. We really relied on him.”

Beyond those concrete achievements, however, Russell will perhaps be best remembered for inspiring untold numbers of people to embrace the environment, advocate for peace and to collaborate and cooperate. He was a leader in everything he did.

“I think we’ve helped people cooperate and work on things together,” Russell told the Record-Eagle in 2012. “We’ve tried not to be polarizing. That’s important work. Sometimes there’s a clear line — this is right and that is wrong, but rarely.

Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot