By William R. John
As I sit here in my study at 3:35 A.M. on November 5, 1972, I have mixed emotions about what I am going to write. A few short hours ago, I was called to the home of Burl E. Russell by his son-in-law after Brother Russell had breathed his last breath of life apparently having experienced a heart attack.
I mention having mixed emotions because I have a desire to tell others (who may not know) that a child of God is free from the burdens of this world having had complete hope in life eternal; but all the while hesitating to write because I am limited to the information pertaining to his life which many people may wish to know.
While I am able to tell you his age (65 years old at death), I am unable to mention very many things, which are specific in nature. I do not know his date of birth or for that matter the exact time of death. While I know that he wrote numerous religious articles for publication, I cannot name every periodical, which may have published his articles; nor can I quote from or make comment about his writings. Of course, the funeral arrangements are still pending and while I know the name of the mortuary; the name would probably be unimportant to those who read this article. I have only known Burl for the past 12 years so I cannot convey to you anything regarding his earlier life, There are so many specifies which I do not know concerning his life that they are too numerous to mention. I realize that by waiting to a later date to write this article much of the missing details could be supplied by the proper research. However, the things which I know about the life of Burl E. Russell have benefited me and I believe are more important than anything mentioned above. The things I mention do not have to be researched but are quite vivid to those that knew him.
The greatest fact about the life of Burt Russell was the fact that he lived his life as a Christian. Burls interest was always in Christ and the church. He served in the kingdom of God as an elder and teacher while on occasion “doing the work of an evangelist. ” To those who are young in the faith (myself included), he was an example in practically every aspect of the Lords work. The words of Paul as expressed in Romans 1: 16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: . . .” were manifested by Burl in his deeds, in this thinking, in the words he spoke, and most certainly in the words he wrote.
Another important aspect of Burls life is that he was a good husband. Although his wife preceded him in death by some 9 months, I am convinced that his deep love for her lingered in his life. Burls wife was for several years an invalid having been weakened in mind and body by numerous strokes. This is where many have admired Burl the most. Although his wife surely was burdensome to his life, it was with love, compassion, patience, and understanding that he cared for her, never complaining about his plight in life. Brother Russell understood more than most men the words of the apostle in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Burls life was also significant as a father and grandfather. He raised a daughter and a son who have recognized Christ as their Savior and have obeyed the gospel. In this point alone, so many fathers, even in the church, are disappointed. At every service, Burl would wait with open arms for his grandchildren. When they would come in the front door of the church building, he would greet them, hold them, and in his own way, love them. He enjoyed them immensely and they felt his love.
While Burls mortal remains are yet with us a few more days, his soul has taken leave on the journey back to the Father. We who knew him are somewhat stunned, but fully impressed with the brevity of our lives. The words of a song seem more and more important with each passing day. “Oh! for a home with God, a place in His courts to rest, sure in a safe abode with Jesus and the blest; Rest for a weary soul once redeemed by the Saviors love, where Ill be pure and whole and live with my God above!”
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 8, pp. 12-13
December 21, 1972