An Open Letter from Bob Russell


Tuesday, May 18, 2004



Dear friends:


        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 Lake Merritt, 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 2am Sunday morning.


        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 Piedmont Community Church 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 you. 


Yours ever,




*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.
CTNS, 2400 Ridge Rd., Berkeley, CA 94709 USA