TOM RUSSEL

July 14, 2017

Obituaries

Norfolk —Thomas Gilbert Russel, 70, died May 25, 2017, at his home.

He was born in Philadelphia, the eldest child of Chester and Sally (Mendenhall) Russel. He was educated in the public schools of Catonsville, Md., and received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1969. He received a Master in Business Administration and Master of Public Administration from Golden Gate University.

On October 21, 1979, he married Paula (Luther) Silver in Norfolk.

In his youth, Tom was employed as a lifeguard and police officer. After college, he worked for Stuart-Warner Corporation in Chicago for a few years, and in 1973, joined the NOAA Commissioned Corps. He served for almost a decade aboard NOAA Ship Mt. Mitchell.

In 1981, Tom began a new career as a civil service engineer at the St. Julian’s Creek Annex of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, where he worked until his retirement in 2010. Tom was a member of Temple Sinai in Portsmouth, serving as its treasurer for 17 years, and served as both a Jewish and humanist chaplain for the Portsmouth Police Department. After retirement, Tom became an enthusiastic volunteer for Project Lifesaver and the Virginia Medical Reserve Corp. He was also an active member of the Hampton Roads Amateur Radio Club and the Tidewater Society for Science and Reason.

Tom was exceedingly generous with his time, money, and love, and was treasured as a friend and mentor to many. In his free time, he enjoyed cooking elaborate meals for family and friends, and was famous for his baking. He told the worst jokes ever, most of which he’d stolen from Boys’ Life magazine, and could solve a New York Times Sunday crossword in 15 minutes. He loved rules and regulations, and was the first to tell you if your inspection sticker had expired or your tires needed air, and what dire consequences you would face unless you addressed the situation immediately. He was also the first to jump your dead battery, or pay for new tires.

He leaves his beloved wife Paula, as well as Paula’s children Rachel and James Silver, to whom he was the best father in the world. He also leaves two sisters: Alice Russel Lerp and Nancy Russel Grant and her husband, Mike. He also leaves his nephew Wil (Kathy) Lerp and niece Margarita Arambula, as well as grand-nephews Kristian, Zak, and Conor, and grand-niece Sarah. He was pre-deceased by his parents.

A service was held at the Fred Heutte Center with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg officiating. Donations to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, the American Cancer Society, or a charity of choice.

The family wishes to express its gratitude to H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, who assisted in donating Tom’s body to the Virginia State Anatomical Program.

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