The Passing of an Elk Grove Historian, Tom Russell

By Connie Conley | December 1, 2014 | On Saturday, November 29 th , while helping his wife Sandi and others at Elk Grove's annual D...

By Connie Conley | December 1, 2014 |
On Saturday, November 29th, while helping his wife Sandi and others at Elk Grove's annual Dickens Faire, Tom Russell collapsed.  Hours later he passed away at Mercy Hospital. 
For those of you who never had the pleasure of meeting Tom, he was a genuine, caring human being with a calm spirit. He loved the city of Elk Grove. Tom loved its history, and he spent years of his life keeping our history alive for generations to come.
Tom also spent many hours educating our fellow citizens on Elk Grove, me being one of them. I can’t tell you how many times, I would either email Tom or go over to his home and ask questions about our city’s history. His patience and wisdom were awe inspiring. Tom gave new meaning to the adage, “When you learn, teach.”
One example: Early in 2006, after Sgt. Joe Nurre, 22, of Wilton was killed in Iraq, I emailed Tom to ask if Elk Grove had ever considered a Memorial Rose Garden. Within an hour, Tom not only emailed me back the complete background and history, but he also emailed me a very old PDF of the actual plans for such a rose garden.
In working with Cosumnes CSD (CCSD) at the time, we tried to make the Memorial Rose Garden a reality, but of course, money got in the way. We also appeared before the Elk Grove City Council to ask that the city consider working with the CCSD. Tom approved my public comment before I read it.  Tom, along with his beloved wife Sandi, were sitting with me before I approached the podium. 
So in loving memory of my historical mentor and friend, on this rainy Sunday, I would like to dedicate the very poem we read by Edgar Albert Guest all those years ago at public comment to Tom Russell:
Be grateful for the kindly friends that walk along your way;
Be grateful for the skies of blue that smile from day to day;
Be grateful for the health you own, the work you find to do,
For round about you there are men less fortunate than you.
Be grateful for the growing trees, the roses soon to bloom,
The tenderness of kindly hearts that shared your days of gloom;
Be grateful for the morning dew, the grass beneath your feet,
The soft caresses of your babes and all their laughter sweet.
Acquire the grateful habit, learn to see how blest you are,
How much there is to gladden life, how little life to mar!
And what if rain shall fall today and you with grief are sad;
Be grateful that you can recall the joys that you have had.

We will miss him terribly, but I will always remember the joys and the chats I have had with Tom Russell.

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Kathy Lee said...

It is with a heavy heart that we wish you strength, wisdom, and peace upon the death of your beloved Tom. Tom was a true friend, a great man and a loyal supporter of Elk Grove. His work on the Historical Society is known far and wide. His knowledge and his ability to share it with others will truly be missed. Good bye old friend, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

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