I want to share the news
that my mom, Arden Russell, died Sunday morning, May 16, after a long
illness. As most of you know, she moved up here to Oakland from Los Angeles four years ago to be closer to our family. She
spent three wonderful years at Lakepark Retirement
Residence just off of LakeMerritt, with a beautiful view of the lake and Oakland / Montclair.
Last spring her congestive heart failure rapidly deteriorated and the end
seemed near. Charlotte and I moved her to our home in Piedmont after remodeling two bedrooms so she could continue to enjoy the world
of furniture and art treasures she had created, and we arranged nursing care
for her in our home. The move must have been 'just what the doctor ordered'
since she lasted through the Fall, enjoying our birthdays and our new family
dog Maddie, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New
Years. In February she celebrated her 90th birthday, with family from LA
coming up for the event and many close friends from CTNS, Lakepark,
and the two churches Charlotte and I have been heavily involved with, Piedmont
Community Church and First Congregational Church, Berkeley.
Four weeks ago she suddenly
declined into a sort of coma. Three days later, though, she came out of
it and for the next two weeks did quite well. We celebrated a wonderful
Mother's Day with our daughter Christie and her husband Gordon. This
'interim' period gave Mom and me a chance to talk directly about death, our
faith in Christ, her seeing my Dad again in heaven, and to think back on her
rich and yet very challenging life. The day after Mother's day she
slipped into a coma again. Morphine helped with the actual dying stages,
but as you know, congestive heart failure ends in a horrific suffocating
process which the morphine only partially alleviated. Fortunately, she
died in her sleep at
I am so grateful for her,
especially for what she taught me about loving and rejoicing in life, in world
cultures, in the beauty of nature, the blessings of family and
friends. Most of all I am thankful that she taught me to be
grateful for every blessing of daily life. Her parting gift has been to
show me how to die with courage and grace and unshakable faith in God.
She will be buried in LA
with my dad at Holy Cross cemetery, followed by a memorial service at Westwood
Hills Christian Church on Thursday, May 26 following a memorial service at PiedmontCommunityChurch the prior week.
My Mom truly believed in
CTNS: its vision, talented staff, committed Board, members and community of
scholars internationally, its affiliation with the GTU, and she always enjoyed
hearing about our programs, my teaching and travels. When I began CTNS in
1981, Mom and I created the J. K. Russell Fellowship in honor of my Dad and she
has continued to support it with a generous annual gift over a period of two
decades. With her passing, the Executive Committee has decided to create a
permanent fund for the annual Fellowship that will enable it to continue as she
would have wished. The goal is $50,000 to which Board members have
already pledged $10,000. Thank you for allowing me to share this event with
*Donations in memory of Arden Russell may be made to the J.K. Russell Memorial Fellowship Fund by sending a check payable to CTNS, earmarked "Russell Memorial Fund" or by using the on-line donation system.