Roger Keith Russell

Keith Russell, 76, of Simpsonville, husband of Mary Ann Garrett Russell, his loving and devoted wife of 54 years, went to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.

Born in Greenville, Mr. Russell was a son of the late Clarence Hopper and Katie Louise McCombs Russell. He was a graduate of Parker High School, The University of South Carolina and Furman University.

He served The School District of Greenville County for forty-six years as both a teacher and administrator at Hillcrest High School and Hillcrest Middle School. Held in high respect by his peers, his career as an educator was one defined by an unwavering advocacy of both students and teachers.

He was a long-time member of Holly Ridge Baptist Church of Simpsonville where he taught Sunday school and served on the Church Finance Committee.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Russell is survived by his children, Jennifer White and her husband, Bryan, of Woodruff, Kyle Russell and his wife, Elizabeth, of Greenville, and Robert Russell of Simpsonville; his grandchildren, Luke White, William Russell, and Mary Elizabeth Russell; one brother, Ronald Russell (Linda) of Pickens; one sister, Robbie Batson; and two sisters-in-law, Lynda Mabry (Eddie), and Carolyn Traynham (Billy), all of Simpsonville. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Debbie Whaley (Claude), Cynthia Sosebee, Suzanne Brown (Heath), Lisa Nesbit (Chad), John Russell, Karen Davenport (Chad), Chris Mabry (Diana), Scott Mabry (Kim), Holly Hill (Brian), and Blake Traynham (Anna).

He was preceded in death by his brother-in-law, Nathan Batson.

Due to COVID-19, a private service will be held for the family in Woodlawn Memorial Park with a Memorial Service to be held at a future date. Those arrangements will be announced once finalized.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to: Holly Ridge Baptist Church Renovation Fund, 260 Adams Mill Road, Simpsonville, SC 29681 or to the Piedmont Women’s Center, 1143 Grove Road, Greenville, SC 29605.

Condolences to the family of Roger Keith Russell

  • Thelma Ballew
    4 years ago

    Mary Ann, Jennifer and family, our hearts are sad as we hear of Keith’s passing. He was loved by his students and neighbors. Love to you all.
    Kirby & Thelma Jones Ballew

  • Bryan Hester
    4 years ago

    Our prayers are with all of you. Mr. Russell was a great man and leader. God Bless!

  • Michelle Meloon
    4 years ago

    Boy, I loved Mr. Russell! He was a great man who influenced many. I know your hearts are breaking, but I pray that God will give you peace in the knowledge that you will see Mr. Russell again. I am sure that he is up there right now shooting the breeze with all those that went before him!

  • Eathel Bowen
    4 years ago

    Prayers for your family. I will always be grateful for having Mr. Russell as my English teacher for freshman and senior years. He was a devoted teacher and a special person. We are all blessed for having known him!

  • Michi Cortese
    4 years ago

    Mary Ann and Family~ So much I want and have to say. My heart breaks for all of you. I LOVED Mr. Russell so much! He was such an inspiration to me in so many ways, as a leader and as a person. He inspired and influenced so many, and was a wonderful Christian man and who loved his family. Students, teachers, and staff loved him, and he loved them and it showed. I have SO many wonderful memories of him. Every time I eat an M & M I think of him and giving our boys their first. Know that I love you and your family, I’m praying for peace and comfort for all of you not only today, but in journey ahead without that special man. He and JT are rejoicing together above. Love to all of you!

  • Pamela Bowers
    4 years ago

    Mr. Russell was an awesome principal who loved his teachers, staff, and students. It was an honor to work with him. I am so sorry for your loss and will keep you all in my prayers. You have suffered a tremendous loss but know he is in a better place. Much love.

  • Brenda Smith
    4 years ago

    I am so sorry for your loss. Mr. Russell was a caring and devoted principal. I enjoyed my years of working for him at HMS. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

  • Rita Goodson
    4 years ago

    Mr. Russell was a genuine and wonderful man. He was such a pleasure to work for. I love the way he prayed over us and our school. He was a special man. I know he is walking streets of gold.

  • Meri Heather Acton
    4 years ago

    Thank you for sharing Mr Russell with us all those years. 17 years ago he gave me a chance as an educator. I owe where I am today to him. I can hear him now whistling coming down the hall. I loved talking with him at lunch about all the leaves we had to rake, talking with Barry smith and his storytelling, or just asking him his opinions. He was my school dad! He always stood by you but taught you while doing it. I pray for your families peace. Just know how much he meant to so many!

  • It was with much sadness that I learned of Keith’s passing. He and I had much in common. We both enjoyed the gift of ‘blarney’ and we loved our children more than life itself.
    Keith will be missed by many as he was loved by all.

  • Brian Cooley
    4 years ago

    My heartfelt condolences to everyone in the Russell family. Your loss is truly a loss for each of us who he touched. People will never know what an impact Mr. Russell had on my life. I felt his love and compassion as a student and saw it later as an adult. A truly great man.

  • Stacy & Tori
    4 years ago

    Dear Russell Family. Mr. Keith touched our lives in so many ways. My my mother worked for him at Hillcrest Middle where he made us all a part of his family. I am so sorry for your loss and the loss of our community, he was loved and appreciated not only by his staff and students – but by the family that surrounded them. My daughter “Tori” loved stealing his M&M’s and sitting in his big chair and waiting on “Mr Keith to come get her.” He is loved today and always! He came every day to the hospital when my mom was there and I’m so thankful. Praying for you guys to have peace during this difficult time. Stacy and Tori

    • Deane Hines
      4 years ago

      Mary Ann and family,
      11 years ago,I walked into HMS to meet Keith Russell and talk about the School Nurse position. I loved him from the minute I met him. He was actually eating M&Ms and handed me some. We laughed and talked. I was hired that day. I knew I wanted to be part of his family at HMS. He never disappointed. My years with him were AMAZING!! He loved all of us and we knew it.And oh how we loved him. The students loved him and he loved them. Hugs were abundant from him. My life was made better knowing him. We all will miss him terribly. I pray for all of you..that God gives you peace and comfort to deal with the journey ahead. Keith Russell made an impression on everyone he met.He was so loved and respected!! He will forever be in my heart!! And as he entered Heaven I know what he heard..Well done my good and faithful Servant!!

  • Mary Samples
    4 years ago

    Mr. Russell, was my principal all four years at Hillcrest High School he gave me the nick name Crash Craddock, I was the the class of 1986, He was like a father to me. He cared about his students and staff and only wanted the best for all. It saddens my heart to hear of his passing. Do know that he make a big impact on my life and I will be praying for the family.

  • Betty Harper
    4 years ago

    I had the privilege of working with Keith at Hillcrest High for many years. He was a great teacher and administrator and very respected. I am so sad at his passing. Please accept my sincere condolences. Remember all the good times.

  • Bessie Skenteris
    4 years ago

    Mr. Russell hired me for an 8th grade math teacher in 2002. I was petrified coming from teaching high school. He let me know middle school life was different but very rewarding!! He was so right!!! Wonderful principal to his staff and students!!!

  • Janice King
    4 years ago

    Jennifer and family, I am so sorry for your loss. May the Lord give you comfort and peace in the difficult days ahead. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Ray, and Lorraine(daughter)
    4 years ago

    Mary Ann(Macy) Jennifer,Kyle,and Robert, it was an honor, that my friend Keith, had asked the family to contact me at Heritage, to be a part of the final arrangements for his passing. I will always remember the last time that I saw him at church. He came passed me and stopped and talked for a brief moment. Our last words were God bless you and I love you my friend. I like so many others will miss his warm and sweet smile, and had shake. May God make smooth the path before you in the days and months ahead. Macy, I know the sorrow, that you have as I have gone the same path that you are now going. Just knowing that some sweet day, I like you will meet our loved one once again. I send my love to each of you. Your friend in Christ . Ray.

  • Jerry McAtee
    4 years ago

    Dear Mary Ann and family,
    I am shocked and saddened about Keith’s death. He was a treasured friend from our days at Parker High, where we graduated together in 1962, and at the University of South Carolina where we were roommates during my first two years there. Keith honored Lorraine and me as he served as a groomsman in our wedding in 1967. I have so many fun memories at Parker and at USC together with many laughs and the serious times, too. Please know of our prayers for you. Jerry McAtee, Oklahoma

  • Gigi Thompson
    4 years ago

    I am so sad to hear of Keith’s passing. I taught under him at HMS and he always had my back. He always supported his teachers , but also wanted the very best for his students. He also helped me to put obstacles and triumphs in perspective. He helped to clear my teaching vision in multiple ways.
    He created a family at HMS and I was fortunate to be a part of it.
    My thoughts and prayers to all of his family. He will always be remembered with fondness.

  • Betty Thacker
    4 years ago

    I was so sorry to hear the news about Mr. Russell. He was a kind and caring man and a wonderful school principal. He had my admiration and respect.

  • Kathy Burdette Walker
    4 years ago

    My absolute all-time favorite high school teacher was Keith Russell. He made English/literature/composing/creative writing FUN and an ADVENTURE,, always encouraged me to ‘think first….and then WRITE….outside the box!” His teachings went far beyond textbook learning…..he taught me to be my own person, think for MYSELF, and NOT be a conformist….to fly high, but use common sense. I have never forgotten him….actually went back to Hillcrest High after graduation to visit him once after he became principal there. I was so sad to see that he passed away a few days ago. The world is a little dimmer for the loss of this good and solid man. Thank You, Lord, for letting me have the privilege of being in “Mr. Russell’s” class 50+ years ago! I never knew until I read his obit that he was Robbie Batson’s brother! I worked with her husband Nathan at CSC for over 20 years and never knew they were related! Such a small world. Prayers for all Keith Russell’s family…..I know he will be greatly missed!

  • Carol Cannon Hopkins
    4 years ago

    What a loss! Mr. Russell was such an influential English teacher of mine at Hillcrest two separate years in the late 60s and early 70s. So many of the things he taught me have remained with me all these years. What a great person he was.

  • Janet Crider
    4 years ago

    I never dreaded going into work when I knew he would be there. He loved to remind me that I was from Orangeburg. During the summer when it was just him and me working. Parents coming in to register new students. If they would ask for directions he would come running out of his office to tell them not to get directions from me. “This is a nice girl but directions from her will send you to Spartanburg.” Just because I got lost a couple of times. The parents coming into the school liked him right away. To know Keith Russell was to love Keith Russell. I will miss him forever. I truly loved him. I always felt like he had my back. -EARTH’S LOSS IS HEAVENS GAIN.

  • Ann Watson Lewis
    3 years ago

    Mary Ann and family,
    My heart is broken this morning as I read that my lifelong friend and neighbor had passed away. So many memories have flooded my
    Mind as I remember all those days as we grew up in Dunean. Please know that you are in my prayers. May God give you the peace and
    Comfort for the difficult days. Love to you and your family.

  • Richard Reed
    3 years ago

    My heart was deeply sadden to learn of his passing. I taught with Keith at Hillcrest High and along with four other buddies we spent hours after school was over, discussing the days events. There are so many memories of the good times we had that I can not even begin to account for them. Keith your passing on in this life leaves a void that cannot be filled. Mary Ann, Kyle and Jennifer I feel your pain and I do share sincerely in your grief. I lost a good friend and will look forward to a reunion someday in heaven.

  • Elvis Vaughn
    3 years ago

    Mary Ann, Jennifer, Kyle I truly cannot imagine the sense of loss you feel. Truly keep his love for each of you to in your heart and know he still keeps for you in special corner of heaven and

  • Lynn Peden
    3 years ago

    Mr. Russell was a wonderful Christian man who was always thinking of others. His thoughtfulness and generosity will never be forgotten. He was always supportive of his students and teachers. I admired Mr. Russell very much, both personally and professionally. My thoughts are prayers are with the family.

  • Wendy Powell
    3 years ago

    I am so sad to hear about Mr. Russell’s passing. He was a devoted and caring person. He certainly was very committed to HMS faculty, staff, students, and parents. He was highly respected and adored by so many. I am grateful for the opportunities that he gave me starting as a school volunteer (PTA), to becoming a substitute teacher, and a teacher assistant. I have so many fond memories of him and working with him was a very rewarding experience. I’m honored to have known him. My prayers are with the family during this difficult time.

  • Celeste Keely
    3 years ago

    I was so saddened to hear of Mr. Russell’s passing. He was one of my favorites! Starting Hillcrest as a junior, he took me under his wing. I was blessed to have had him my junior and senior years. His impact on my life was huge; educationally, but more importantly, personally. Our paths continued to cross over the years, with the latest being at Rudolph Gordon School where he volunteered with Good News Club. It was always good to “catch up”. What a huge loss this is for those of us who knew him and loved him! My prayers will continue to be with your family. How blessed I am that God placed him in my life years ago! Love and prayers…

  • Michael Shelton
    3 years ago

    I was in one of Keith’s first English classes at Hillcrest. He had us write essays comparing and contrasting two short stories with one catch. We were not to use any form of the verb “to be.” Before he returned the essays, he said he wanted to read the best one. Imagine how an insecure freshman who was coming off a less than stellar junior high career felt when he recognized his own work being read to the class. Keith became a friend over the years, as well as being the teacher who most inspired me and gave me confidence.

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