Johnnie Frank Russell
February 12, 1925 - May 18, 2008
JOHNNIE FRANK RUSSELL
Johnnie Frank Russell was born February 12, 1925, in West Monroe, Louisiana, the son of Frank L. and Annie Naomi Hicks Russell and grandson of John and Malinda Brunson Russell, and died May 18, 2008, at the St. Francis Hospital in Monroe. John Russell, Johnnie Frank’s grandfather, at the age of six years, along with his brother, Jim, both orphans, came to Bernice, Louisiana, on the back of a covered wagon in the aftermath of the Civil War. The only memory that John Russell retained of that period was that something had happened in Georgia and he and his brother were left to travel with those covered wagons to Louisiana. Upon arrival, Jim Russell moved on to Natchitoches with one family, while John remained in Bernice with another family.
Johnnie Frank Russell grew up in the Calhoun community and endured some difficult times during the Great Depression. From an early age, Johnnie Frank was an aggressive salesman and, with that talent, secured employment with the Sears and Roebuck Company in Monroe. An avid and accomplished baseball player, while playing on the Sears baseball team at the Balkwell Faulk Field, Johnnie met Mattie Davis by asking her to hold his first baseman’s glove. A friend, Dan Cox, remembered that he had to hold on to Johnnie’s shirt to keep him from running away at 2:30 AM one morning when he asked her out on their first date. That initial date was on June 19, 1947, Mattie Davis’s birthday. Two months later, on August 4, 1947, with $2.00 in his pocket, Johnnie Frank married her, which was the start of a most happy union that lasted for sixty-one years.
In 1949, again displaying his sales talent, Johnnie Frank worked first for Slagle-Johnson Lumber Company (1949-1959), then Steele Lumber Company (1959-1977). Those who worked with him remember that Johnnie Frank would walk in on sales personnel sitting around and charge them to get up and “sell something to somebody now!” On September 1, 1977, with Robert Earl Moore of West Monroe, Johnnie Frank opened Russell-Moore Lumber Inc. in the McCoy Lumber Company Building on South Grand Street in Monroe. In 1982, Russell-Moore Lumber Inc. moved to its present location in the old Turpin Building at the corner of Powell and Louisville Avenue. In 1995, Johnnie Frank retired and sold his part of the business to his son. Today both Randy Russell and his son, Brian, continue the tradition of Russell-Moore Lumber Inc.
Johnnie Frank is survived by his wife, Mattie Davis Russell; a son, Randy Frank Russell and daughter-in-law, Ruth; a daughter, Peggy Joyce Russell; four grandchildren, Brian Stuart and his wife, Jenay, Russell, Jennifer Anne Mazzanti, Joseph Anthony Mazzanti and Dustin Colt Amos; a great-grandson, Jacob Davis Russell; a sister, Malinda Russell Hilton; a brother-in-law, Norman Allbritton; numerous nieces and nephews and a large number of friends.
Funeral services will be held at Kilpatrick Funeral Home, West Monroe, at 2:30 P.M., Wednesday, May 21, 2008, with visitation 5-7:00 P.M., Tuesday, May 20. Services will be conducted by William Hatten, Sr. and Dennis Hensley, Jr. Interment will follow in Twin Cities Memorial Gardens, West Monroe, LA under the direction of Kilpatrick Funeral Homes, West Monroe, LA.
Jimmy Chambers, Freddie Jackson, James Earl Wiley, Danny Keyes, Ronnie Albritton, James Wiggins, Kerry Thompson and McArthur Brown will serve as pallbearers.
A special thanks to Dr. Scott McClelland, Dr. Greg Sampognaro, Dr. Fincher and the staff in SICU at St. Francis Hospital.
Memorials may be sent to The Ouachita Baptist Church Building Fund or the charity of your choice.