Obituary: Les Russell
By John Carr
Leslie Alexander Russell died of cancer on June 23rd 2012. Les was born in 1926 in Walker, in the east of Newcastle, where he grew up. He had to leave school at the outbreak of World War II, but the education he had received by that time had already inspired in him a love of English Literature, Shakespeare and classical music.
He eventually secured an apprenticeship at Swan Hunters, becoming a time-served patternmaker. Life in the East End of Newcastle during the depression, and his father’s Scottish Presbyterian influence forged in Les a combination of left wing politics and evangelical faith that he saw as mutually compatible and supportive of each other.
He joined the Royal Navy in 1948, qualifying as a Nurse and a Medical Laboratory Technician, and stayed in the Navy until 1972. He was land-based for all but 2 years of his Naval service, and said he felt that serving on board ship was a good idea in principle only!
He married Yvonne in the mid 1950s and in 1957 their son Calvin was born.
On leaving the Navy Les returned to Newcastle, becoming active as a Lay Reader in the church and in politics as a city councillor. He served as Lord Mayor in 1996 and managed to include references to St Paul in his acceptance speech in the Council Chamber. In 1999 he became an Honorary Alderman.
Les had strong, clear views in both politics and religion. He believed that the Holy Spirit places us where he wants us to spread the gospel. In this spirit he served his Lord in both the Venerable Bede in Benwell and on the City Council for many years. Although ill-health had limited his ministry in recent years he still took a keen interest in matters and his faithfulness and experience will be missed.
Our prayers and thoughts are with his widow Yvonne, his son Calvin, daughter-in-law Sandra and his grandchildren Claire and Emma.
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