In Loving Memory of John Gibson Russell

February 06, 1928
Mount Vernon, NY
April 21, 2020
Fairfield, CT
Funeral Home

Spear-Miller Funeral Home

39 South Benson Road,
Fairfield CT US 06824


Greenfield Hill Congregational Church

Celebration of Life

Date to be determined


Family Gathering


Timothy C. Russell Endowed Fund, University of Denver

2601 E Colorado Ave,
CO 80210

The Russell Family Fund in Memory of Stephen C. Russell ‘84

Choate Rosemary Hall,
333 Christian Street,
CT 06492

John Gibson Russell

John Gibson Russell, born February 6, 1928, passed away at the age of 92 in the early morning hours of April 21, 2020 in Fairfield, CT.
John was the only child of J. Thomas Russell and Frances Gibson Russell and the grandson of Charles Robert Gibson, founder of the CR Gibson Company, Norwalk, CT. He grew up in New York City on the top floor of the Weylin Hotel on East 54th Street where his father was managing director. As a child, John was a proud member of the Knickerbocker Greys Cadet Corps, based out of the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan. He attended the Browning School, Choate Rosemary Hall (C’46) and Yale University (C’50). After graduation, John was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Corp of Engineers and served in the Korean War. Upon discharge, he joined the CR Gibson Company, retiring in 1987 as executive vice president. John then found his second calling, working for his alma mater, Choate Rosemary Hall. He volunteered his time as the Reunion Chair for numerous C’46 reunions, and he worked for Choate on a part-time basis until 2013, overseeing the School’s endowed annual fund program, managing the Headmaster’s Leadership Council, and eventually becoming the informal “overlord” of the School’s annual report of giving. John was most proud of establishing a singularly unprecedented rate of giving for the Class of 1946: an unbroken string of 100% participation for 26 years and counting. John was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Choate Rosemary Hall Alumni Association in 2015.
In addition to working for Choate, John was very involved with the Yale Class of 1950, serving as class agent and editor of numerous class directories. He was also President for close to 50 years of the Chester House Association in Bromley Village, Peru, VT.
John loved life in every sense of the word. He got his greatest enjoyment from connecting with family and friends, both near and far, traveling the world and taking pictures. He was at his best reaching out and talking to people. John was an active member in the Comedy Club of Fairfield, CT in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Circumnavigators Club, the Fairfield County Hunt Club, the Fairfield Beach Club, the Yale Club of New York City and the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church.
John is survived by his son Doug and wife Janet of Cambridge, MA, his daughter Betsy Milicia and husband Joe of Fairfield, CT, six grandchildren, Chip (Alyssa), Johnny (Teresa) and Laura Russell, Sarah, Kelly and Allison Milicia and great granddaughter Eloise (age 5 weeks). He was predeceased by his wife of 54 years Thora Carr Russell, his two sons, Tim and Steve and Doug’s first wife, Mary.
Interment will be private at Oaklawn Cemetery in Fairfield, CT. A memorial service to celebrate John’s life will be held at a later date at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church when it is safe for family and friends to gather. In celebration of John’s life, memorial contributions may be made to the Timothy C. Russell Endowed Fund, University of Denver, 2601 E Colorado Ave, Denver, CO 80210 or the Russell Family Fund in Memory of Stephen C. Russell ‘84, Choate Rosemary Hall, 333 Christian Street, Wallingford, CT 06492. To leave an online condolence, please visit,

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7 Guestbook Entries for John G. Russell

  1. Dear Doug, Betsy and your collective families-
    It is with sadness that this news meets me. After reading Mr. Russell (John’s) distinguished life I can say I have never meet a more unassuming person, ever. Our Vermont days are a memory I hold dear. Waiting for the Russells to arrive was a highlight for the start of the best week of the year. My parents were so happy to be connected with John and Thora every summer and beyond and I loved to see them that happy. Every year some history was made and laughter of previous histories they made together was something they probably all held dear. John was always quick with a smile and and arm around the shoulder and he loved connecting with everyone he met. I will always remember him with a camera around his neck, capturing life around him. I do believe I hear the clinking of glasses as they drink in their first green thing of their forever. My sincere condolences.

  2. Truly, a life lived to the fullest – God Bless!

    To Betsy, Doug and families – and his many, many dear friends, so very sorry for your loss….he loved you all, saw the goodness & promise in each of you! Though never easy to say goodbye, may the countless precious memories allow your hearts to smile when you think of him 💚✝️

    It was my pleasure & privilege to have spent time with John – will miss watching NYY games / tennis, talking history, travels & so many subjects….as well as some very silly moments.
    Godspeed JGR 🙏

  3. We offer thanks and praise for an admirable man, both wise and generous. John was a friend and neighbor for many years and we will miss his fine company.

  4. To the Russell Family …
    Although I didn’t meet all of John and Thora’s kids in the few years I managed to get to the Tyler Place, I did hear a long string of stories from my younger siblings about the fun and games our two families had together as our summer vacations intertwined.
    More importantly, I did get to meet both John and Thora on several occasions over the years and experienced first hand the “love of life” that was a fundamental aspect of who they both were. Every time I met John again, we picked up right where we had left off even when it had been a long time since our paths had crossed. I never failed to be impressed by the way he engaged with people, found common ground opportunities to smile and laugh together, and demonstrated his passion for the other people in his life. In particular, I still remember sitting across from John and Thora at my parents 50th Wedding Party at Copolla’s in Poughkeepsie and how much fun we had at that event. It was a great evening that we all still talk about when we get together, made more memorable to my parents and to me by their presence.
    It was a distinct pleasure to have known both your parents and enjoyed all the times our lives crossed.
    With love to you all – Scott

  5. Dear Doug and Betsy,

    I was so sad to hear about your father’s death. I will never forget about the

  6. Dear Doug and Betsy,

    I was so sad to hear about your father’s death. He was a very special person in my life. He always treated me like I was part of his family especially when my father passed away 25 years ago. I will never forget the Memorial Day picnics in the field by your house and all of those fun softball games when we were children. As an adult, I have such fond memories of holiday celebrations in Aspen with both of your parents and with Stevie. All of course were documented with photos taken by your father. I always looked forward to catching up with your Dad when I visited my mother in Fairfield. He always seemed to be there and always smiling! Lots of fun times at the Beach Club and at the Hunt Club whenever I was in town. I will miss him so much.

    Your father loved you all so much. You are so lucky he lived such a long and wonderful life. We are all lucky to have known him. I will miss his long Christmas letters (sent in the Spring) and I will miss sending ours to him. Please know you and your families are in my thoughts and prayers at this very sad time. I wish I could hug you all.

    With love,


  7. All of us at the Fairfield Museum were so deeply saddened to hear of John’s passing. John was a great fan and generous supporter of the Museum, attending many of our programs and events.
    He was always ready with a broad smile and wonderful words of encouragement. Fair winds John, we will miss you.