Theodore M. Russell, 84: Pediatrician served patients, community, family

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YARMOUTH — Theodore “Ted” Merrill Russell, 84, died at his home in Yarmouth on March 28, after a long illness.

Born Sept. 11, 1930, at St. Barnabas Hospital in Portland, he was the son of Carl Asa Russell and Ruth Merrill Russell, of Falmouth.

Theodore grew up in Falmouth with his two brothers, attended Falmouth schools, and graduated in 1948 as co-salutatorian from Falmouth High School. His family was musical, and he often played the xylophone at local events while his mother accompanied him on the piano.

Russell attended Bowdoin College, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, sang with the Bowdoin Chorus, and graduated cum laude in 1952. He went on to attend Tufts University School of Medicine, earning his medical degree in 1957. He completed his internship at Maine General Hospital in 1958.

During his second year of medical school, Russell enjoyed a blind date with Ellen Butler, a Simmons College student from Portland. By the end of the date, Russell said, he was certain he had met the woman of his future. The couple were married on June 16, 1956. 

From 1958-1960, Russell served as a medical officer with the rank of captain in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He and his family subsequently returned to Maine, where he became the first pediatric resident at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

In 1962, they moved to Augusta, where Russell opened his pediatric practice. He also treated patients at Augusta General Hospital, serving as president of the medical staff and chief of pediatrics. Russell eventually took two partners into his practice, then known as Russell, Sheehan and Good. He reluctantly retired in 1978 due to a degenerative spinal cord disease.

While in Augusta, Russell served on the boards of directors of the Maine Children’s Home, The Mimi Judd Fund and Hospice of Kennebec Valley. He was also a member of the American Medical Association, the Maine Medical Association and the Kennebec County Medical Association.

He was a communicant of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Augusta and a member of its vestry.

Russell and his wife moved to Yarmouth in 1993 in order to be closer to family. He cherished the time spent with his grandchildren, whether as a playmate in their younger years or attending their school activities and sporting events as they grew older.

In his free time, Russell was a woodcarver, a furniture maker, a jewelry artisan, a clay sculptor, a pin collector, a bread baker, a cartoonist and an animal lover who enjoyed teaching tricks to his dogs. The family spent summers on Flying Point in Freeport, where he also enjoyed gardening and general “puttering.” He knew the value of thrift, and often could be found browsing a good yard sale.

Russell was predeceased by his parents and by a brother, John J. Russell.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Ellen Butler Russell, of Yarmouth; a son, Donald Asa Russell, and daughter-in-law, Pamela, of Cumberland; and his grandchildren, Elizabeth Russell, of New York City, and Theodore Russell, of Cumberland. He is also survived by a brother, Carl A. Russell Jr., and wife, Margaret; sisters-in-law Hannah Russell and Judith Nichipo; and several nieces and nephews and their families. 

Russell’s family would like to thank Casco Bay Home Care and Hospice of Southern Maine, who allowed him to be comfortable at home.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, April 12, at 1 p.m., at the Congregational Church in Cumberland, 282 Main St., Cumberland.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital, 22 Bramhall St., Portland, ME 04102, or to MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Alfond Center for Health, Pediatric Unit, 35 Medical Center Parkway, Augusta, ME 04330.

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