Friday, December 16, 2011

Tribute to a member of the "Greatest Generation" - David Bates Russell

On Monday, December 12, another member of the "Greatest Generation" passed away. David Bates Russell of Springfield, Vt was 98. Dave will be remembered for his quick with and great sense of humor, he was truly a wonderful man. He was always willing a share a story, be it about his farming days, his work at the machine shops in Springfield, or of his family. Stories about the family farm on Parker Hill are among this writer's favorites. Dave used to stand at the bottom of the stairs and play his bugle to wake up his kids. His bugle mysteriously disappeared one day. David Jr., Pat and Peggy have never said what happened to it but several years ago they bought him a new one for Christmas. At the neighborhood Christmas party, Dave could always be counted on to play a few tunes on his accordion or hammer out a lively rhythm on a set of bones.

Our student interns had a chance to interview Dave and his wife of 71 years, Marjorie Blodgett Russell for our WWII exhibit. They talked about life on the home front and what it was like working in the machine shops. Just before WWII began, Dave served briefly in the Army Air Corp. He remembered training with broom sticks because there was a shortage of real guns.

Dave and Marjorie loved farming, horses, and square dancing. They held square dances in the ballroom of their Parker Hill farm house. Together they help to establish the GMHA facility in South Woodstock, VT, often leading trial rides from Springfield to Woodstock, and were very much involved with the local 4-H group. They created a small riding ring, complete with a judges booth, on their property and hosted horse shows for the 4-H kids.

Dave contributed greatly to the town of Springfield and to the surrounding area. He was an inspiration to many will surly be missed.

"SPRINGFIELD - David Bates Russell of Springfield passed away on Dec. 12, 2011, at age 98. Although Dave was born in Erie, Pa., in 1913, and later lived in Syracuse, N.Y., his Vermont roots go back seven generations. In 1923, his family returned to the Russell homestead in Shrewsbury, Vt., realizing a longstanding dream. There, Dave acquired his love of farm life. He graduated from Springfield High School in 1932.
During college, Dave worked summers at Jones and Lamson in Springfield, running the company's last Hartness flat turret lathe. Over the next 51 years, he worked at J&L, Lovejoy's, Bryant's and Bryant Computer Products as a machinist, draftsman, methods man, liaison engineer, cost estimator and personnel administrator.
Dave married Marjorie Blodgett in 1941. In 1944, the Russells bought a farm on Parker Hill in Springfield and raised their family there. Dave farmed full time for five years in the late 1940s and later continued to farm nights and weekends after going back to work in the shop. Over the years, he divided his spare time among dairy farming, raising horses, square dancing with Precision Valley Squares and playing a variety of musical instruments. He retired from Bryant's in 1978.
Writing was always important in his life. A collection of his poems entitled "Verses from a Vermont Hilltop" was published in 2005. In addition to writing poetry and keeping daily journals, he published articles about the history of Shrewsbury, Vt.
Dave is survived by Marjorie, his wife of 71 years; his son, David B. Russell Jr. of Burlington, Mass.; his daughters, Patricia R. Saylor of South Windsor, Conn., and Marjorie R. Raymond of Chardon, Ohio; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
The family would like to thank the staff at Springfield Hospital Special Care Unit for the wonderful care they have provided. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Springfield Humane Society, 401 Skitchewaug Trail, Springfield, VT 05156; or to the First Congregational Church UCC, 77 Main St., Springfield, VT 05156.
A memorial service will be held at the Congregational Church in Springfield on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 1 p.m. Arrangements are under the direction of the Davis Memorial Chapel in Springfield, Vt."

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