By Jeff Bahr
Kearny lost one of its most beloved citizens on Friday, Jan. 27 with the passing of 71-year-old Ken Russell. Russell was well known within the community for his involvement in civic groups, and for his uncommon concern for the poor and disenfranchised.
“Ken was a larger-than-life personality who really lived to be involved with his grandchildren and to be involved with his community,” said Russell’s son-in-law Mark Wiggins, who went on to recount his first meeting with his future father-in-law. “The first time I met him I was a Pioneer boy and Ken came in and he was showing us how to juggle and do magic tricks” said Wiggins. “I never imagined that my children would be blessed with such a wonderful grandfather. My parents are lucky to have had him.”
In addition to his work with several other organizations, Russell served for the past seven years as a member of the Salvation Army’s Kearny Corps Advisory Board. “Ken’s passing is a loss to our Advisory Board and so many civic groups in our communities,” said Rebecca Escobar, Administrative Assistant of Kearny Corps. Escobar added that she was thrilled that Russell will be honored this year at Kearny Corps’ annual dinner.
Russell worked closely with the Salvation Army, particularly during their annual campaign to raise funds for the poor. According to Maj. Brenda Suarez, Russell was “well connected in the community” and was always ready to help out where he could. “Every year he would help with our ‘Kettle Campaign” explained Suarez. “He really touched a lot of lives within the organization.”
Maj. Alberto Suarez also spoke fondly of Russell. “He was very compassionate, especially for social justice issues, said Suarez in describing his friend. “He had a great compassion for poor people.”
Russell was a member of the West Hudson chapter of The Pioneer Boys & Girls of America.