Robert (Bob) Harry Russell passed away suddenly at his home on June 18, at the age of 86. He leaves his wife of 60 years, Carol, his son James and wife Susan, his daughter Jennifer and husband Mark Mahoney, and beloved grandchildren John and Thomas Russell and Ven Mahoney. Bob is also survived by his sister Martha Russell Hsu.
Bob was born Sept. 4, 1935, in Wheeling, W.Va., the son of Robert H. Russell and Helen Bowers Russell, and grew up in Shadyside, Ohio. He graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA in 1957 with a major in Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation, Bob began a 35-year career working for IBM Corporation in various positions, primarily as Director of Forecasting. In 1962, Bob met his wife, Carol, who was also employed by IBM, and they were married later that year. The Russell family relocated to Wilton in 1969.
Bob was very active in Wilton, its organizations, and its preservation. He served as a volunteer on the Board of Finance, the Police Commission, and the Historic District and Historic Property Commission. Upon retirement from IBM in 1992, Bob was asked to run for first selectman. He served for three terms, 1993-1999, during which the Town expanded schools, purchased a number of open spaces (including Ambler Farm), and provided for affordable senior living.
He also served as a trustee of the Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society, and he was active in the Wilton Congregational Church. His role as the Church historian inspired his learning and research of the history of Wilton.
Recognizing the lack of a complete town history, he took on the task to write one, which culminated in the publishing of his book, Wilton Connecticut: Three Centuries of People, Places, and Progress. The five-year project of researching and writing the book was a labor of love. In recognition of the impact of Bob’s work and of his wife Carol’s archival contributions to town history, the library History Room was named in his family’s honor. Bob was well-known as a curator for the Wilton Library book sale, where he loved pouring through old books and discovering rare and unusual volumes.
After moving to Meadow Ridge retirement community in 2014, Bob remained active in the community there, volunteering for the library, scholarship, and building committees, as well as writing for the Ridge Record newsletter.
Bob will be buried at Hillside Cemetery in Wilton. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Bob Russell to the Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Rd., Wilton, CT 06897, and to the Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Rd., Wilton, CT 06897.