Bettie M. Russell

Published 5:28 pm Friday, December 31, 2010

On Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 29, 2010, a quiet woman with a sweet spirit was called home to eternal rest.

Bettie M. Russell was born on March 18, 1922, to the late George and Fannie Powell Gilliam in Southampton County, Emporia, Va. At a young age, she became a member of Adam Grove Baptist Church.

Bettie was widowed at an early age, and she found herself living in Manhattan, N.Y., with three young children to rear without a husband. She went back to school and earned a license in cosmetology. Eventually, she moved to Albany, N.Y., and joined Welcome Chapel, where she was an active member of their youth ministry. She delighted in planning programs and organizing activities for the children in church. Her library card was well-worn and used often, as she was an avid reader. Her baking skills were widely known, and apple pie was her favorite. After living in New York for more than 50 years, she relocated to Suffolk, Va., and joined Holland Mission United Church of Christ.


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She was predeceased by her husband, Vernon Russell; two sisters, Hattie Jordan and Clementine L. Battle; four brothers, Roosevelt, George (Peter), Roger and Louis Gilliam.

Survivors include two daughters: F. Mae Gilliam Burke and Cynthia N. Headley; two sons, Vernon Russell Jr. and George Russell; granddaughters, Jane Tuitt, Monique Markovitch and Lauren V. Burke; grandsons, Randy Burke and Richard I. Headley; seven great-grandchildren; one sister-in-law, Juanita Gilliam, and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins and friends.

A celebration of Bettieā€™s life will be held on Monday, Jan. 3, 2011 at Holland Mission United Church of Christ, 221 Dutch Road, village of Holland, Suffolk, Va. The body will be on view from noon until the service starts at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make donations to Holland Mission United Church of Christ, P.O. Box 7125, Suffolk, VA.