Russell graduated from Lansing Eastern High School (Class of 1936) and attended MSC (MSU) graduating in the class of 1940 (music school). Russell was a lifelong musician playing the piano in local bands in high school. In September 1939, as a member of the Bill Porter Orchestra, Russell played onboard the French luxury liner The Ile de France crossing the Atlantic and going on to visit Paris. From 1942-1945 Russell served in the U.S. Army Air Force and played with the 2nd Air Force Headquarters Band and the Fort Leonard Wood Swing Band.
After the war Russell had a long career and extensive travel (New York to Los Angeles) playing with such bands as Ray Herbeck, Freddy Nagel, Griff Williams as well as years with Frankie Carle, Frankie Masters and Wayne King. Most of the latter decades were spent playing at the Empire Room at the Palmer House (Chicago). During those years Russell worked with the top entertainers of the time when they played the Palmer House.
After retiring, Russell returned to Lansing and studied journalism and photography, both lifelong interests. He was a 50-year life member of the Chicago Federation of Musicians.
He was preceded in death by his wife Dorothy and two brothers Rolland and Carroll. He is survived by a stepdaughter, Mrs. Robert Hanson of Moline, IL; a niece, Mrs. Joan Acker of Goshen, IN; and a nephew, Philip Siebert of Lansing.
A private family graveside service will take place at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing. Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.