James Joseph “J.J.” Russell of Monticello died on Thursday, April 13 on his 81st birthday. He served as sacristan at St. Mark Church for 25 years.
A Memorial Mass for Russell will be held on Saturday, May 6 at 11 a.m. at St. Mark Church, 1016 N. Hyatt Street, Monticello.
Born in Sinnamahoning, Pa., to Joseph Drum and Jennie Erickson Russell, Russell was a 20-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department. He was one of 18 members of the elite Surveillance Intelligence Section established 51 years ago after the kidnapping of comedian Johnny Carson’s son. Other assignments included Southeast Homicide, West Los Angeles, Pacific and Newton Division Detectives, CRASH (Gangs), 77th Street Division Narcotics, Venice patrol, Accident Investigation and Training Divisions.
Russell retired to Monticello in July 1989, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1991, and was a devoted daily communicant. He served as sacristan to Frs. Dan Dorsey, Chet Artysiewicz, Phillip Reaves Pius Iwuchukwu, Raja Ciapiddi, and Mark Abban, the current pastor.
A Marine Corps veteran, Russell was a founding member of the Drew County Salvation Army. He served in the Drew County Sheriff’s Auxiliary under Sheriff Tommy Free and was a catechist who described himself as the “world’s oldest altar boy.”
Survivors include his wife, Arlene Ellis Russell; his children, Joseph Drum Russell and Lynne Marie Russell of Los Angeles, California, Charles John Russell of Medford, Oregon, and Sean Kevin Hogan (Danielle) of San Clemente, California; his grandchildren, Nicholas Russell, Connor Hogan, and triplets Jack, Cooper, and Kennedy Hogan; his sister, Karen DiGiovanni (Tony) of San Marino, California; his nephews Michael, Anthony, and John DiGiovanni.
Other survivors include his exchange students, Artur Hairullin of Moscow, Russia, Michal Siewior of Czestahowa, Poland and Maryangelica Torres Monsalve of Barquismeto, Venezuela.
Russell was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Jennie Russell and his daughter, Mary Theresa Russell Watkins.
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