Robert (Bob) Lee Russel, former District Attorney and longtime community leader, died January 25, 2012. He was 82 years old. Mr. Russel was born in Kansas City, Missouri on December 27, 1929 and was adopted by Harold and Sadie (Mayer) Russel from McPherson, Kansas.
After the 7th grade, his family moved to Wichita, Kansas for two years, then to Salina, Kansas where Bob graduated from high school in 1947. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he was a member of the wrestling team and Sigma Nu fraternity. He graduated from college in 1951 with a degree in music, a degree he formed at UNL. Throughout high school and college Russel was active playing the trumpet in dance bands and small jazz groups.
The Korean War commenced in 1950 and, after graduating from college, Russel was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Army. He reported for active duty in the military police, which provided security for the atomic bomb and atomic artillery units based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
From 1953-1956 Russel went on to attend and graduate from George Washington University, Washington D.C., with a degree in law. During law school he worked as an elevator operator in the United States Senate portion of the Capitol building. This period provided Russel with his first political experience including the Joe McCarthy hearings, the first years of John F. Kennedy in the Senate, and the Eisenhower administration’s tough stand against the Soviets. Foremost, while working in the Capitol building, Bob met Miss. Gloria Gile of Madison, South Dakota, the secretary to South Dakota Senator Karl Mundt. The two were married in February 1955 and had their first child, Robert Jr., while living in Washington D.C.
With law degree in hand, Russel landed a job in the U.S. Justice Department as an administrative auditor of the United States Courts. Within two years, he was stationed in six different federal court districts throughout the southern states. During this time, Bob and Gloria had two more children, Kathleen and Richard.
In 1959, Russel moved the family to Colorado Springs to practice law where they had four more children, Laura, John, Paula and finally, Michael.
Russel was elected District Attorney in 1964, and subsequently re-elected four more times until 1984. During these twenty years, Russel became a national leader. He formed the first child abuse unit in the country, plus the first Juvenile Diversion program, which became a national model. Additionally, he started the Consumer Fraud Division. Finally, Russel formed the first organization and safehouse to help battered women, and organized a division that dealt with rape.
Russel was a District Attorney who tried twenty-nine murder cases, more than any other Colorado prosecutor. He successfully prosecuted five death penalty verdicts. Among his successful cases was the conviction of Freddie Glenn, the killer of Karen Grammer, sister of actor Kelsey Grammer. Furthermore, Russel was appointed as special prosecutor against Ted Bundy for the killing of Karen Campbell in Aspen. (Bundy escaped before his case came to trial.) Russel also advised his friend and colleague, Lou Smit, who investigated the killing of JonBenet Ramsey in 1996.
Russel received the Distinguished Service Award from the National District Attorney’s Association and was personally recognized by the Welfare Fraud Association, as well as the U.S. Department of Health, Education & Welfare for trailblazing child support and welfare fraud.
Russel received Outstanding Service awards from The United States Air Force Academy, the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Colorado District Attorneys Assn., and the State of Colorado for the Welfare Fraud program.
He was very active in support of St. Mary’s High School, where most of his children attended school, including a stint as the President of the Boosters Club.
Since 1968, Russel wrote music and played the trumpet for the Benet Hill Academy Dad-Daughter musical productions. His daughter, Paula, later attended and graduated from Benet Hill Academy. This wonderful relationship with the Benet Hill sisters continued throughout his life. Russel loved music and continued to play the trumpet in several bands in the area. He was a member of the Pikes Peak Jazz Society and knew many of the area musicians.
Russel was preceded in death by his parents, Harold & Sadie (Mayer) Russel; his sister, Patricia Sutton; and his wife, Gloria (Gile) Russel.
He is survived by his children: Robert Jr. (Karen) Russel; Kathleen (Jim) Robertson; Richard (Kathy) Russel; Laura Russel; John (Cynthia) Russel; Paula Leclerc; and Michael (Kate) Russel. Russel also had fifteen grandchildren: Cassie Russel; Curtis Russel; Justin Smith; Andrew (Antonia) Smith; Hannah Robertson; Richard Russel Jr.; Kammie Russel; Jon Mark Russel; Katie Russel; Sungmin Russel; Kristan Leclerc; Matthew Leclerc; Connor Leclerc; Sarah Russel and Rachel Russel.
Visitation will be February 3rd from 5-8pm at the Shrine of Remembrance, 1730 East Fountain Boulevard. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held February 4th at 9am at Holy Apostles Catholic Church, 4925 North Carefree Circle. A reception will follow at the Olympian Plaza Reception & Event Center, 975 South Union Boulevard.
Memorial Contributions can be made to the Benet Hill Monastery, Development Office; 3190 Benet Lane, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921-1509.