Betty Jo Russell, the daughter of the late James T. Bridges and Alice May (Pribble) Bridges, passed away on January 12, 2021 at the age of 86. She went home to Jesus to be reunited with her late husband, Charles T. Russell, her daughter, Victoria, and grandson, Johnny.
Betty was born on July 14, 1934 in Anna, Illinois. She was the eldest of nine siblings and was lovingly referred to as “momma” by her younger siblings.. By the age of four, she was making biscuits, frying eggs and stirring hot gravy while standing on a homemade stool her father made for her to reach the stove.
The first time she laid eyes on Charles Russell was her senior year of high school. She saw him driving around town with a car full of girls. She turned to her mother and said, “Who’d go out with him?” Shortly after that, her friend convinced her to go on a double date where her date was Charlie.
Betty graduated from Anna-Jonesboro High School in 1953 and married Charles Russell that same year. She loved his demeanor, the way he looked at the world and the mutual respect they had for each other. In their 64 year union, they had seven children and two children of the heart.
Betty and Charlie spent the majority of their lives in Union and Johnson County. When they weren’t working, they devoted their lives to each other and their children. Betty taught her love of cooking to her children and grandchildren, encouraging them even when their recipes didn’t turn out as planned.
In her early 50s, Betty went back to school and obtained her certified nursing assistant (CNA) license to continue her legacy of caring for others.
She was a member of the Eastern Star organization for 43 years. She was a primary member at the Egyptian #30 and a dual member at Ziegler #841. She served as the Grand Martha of Illinois in 2012, the Grand Representative of Wyoming in Illinois from 2000-2001 and the Worthy Matron several times in both chapters.
She discovered a love for traveling later in her life as she ventured to California and Colorado to spend time with her grandchildren and to meet her great grandchildren. She played the slot machines for the first time in Las Vegas and spent the winter months in Florida with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
Her legacy will live on through her famous chicken and dumplings recipe she taught to her grandchildren, and in the carefully crafted quilts she made for loved ones. Her family will always think of her when a Loretta Lynn song plays and when roses, irises and daffodils bloom in a garden.
She is survived by six of her seven children and her two children of the heart. Her children include Wendell Russell and his wife Sally, and his children Melany, Michael, Christopher, Bradley, Cierra and Amy; Torrie Blevins, daughter of Victoria Russell Blevins (deceased); Cyndia Russell Miller and her husband Robert and their daughter Marquetta; Willie Russell and his wife Dawn and his children Victoria, Tina, Willie Jr. and Amanda; Charles J Russell and his wife Kim and their children Ashley and Brianna; Lori Russell Daum and her children Nigel and Samantha; Alice Faye Russell Carter and her husband Michael and her daughter Jessica Lyn; Her children of the heart are Chris and Bobbi Kuhn along with their children Aiden and Gavin. She is also survived by her beloved dog, Sugar, who was a great comfort to both her and Charlie. She is also survived by 20 great-grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and one great-grandchild due later this year. Betty is also survived by seven of her siblings.
A public walk-through memorial visitation honoring the life of Betty will be held on Saturday, January 23, 2021 from noon to 2 p.m. at Bailey Funeral Home in Vienna. A private funeral service will follow with Eastern Star rites. For those unable to attend, the service will be livestreamed on the Bailey Funeral Home Facebook page and will be archived for later viewing. She will be laid to rest at the Pleasant Grove cemetery alongside her husband and daughter in a graveside service led by Pastor Mike Miller. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to Eastern Star Home, 9890 Star Lane, Macon, IL 62544.
Those attending the visitation and service are reminded to observe customarily accepted social distancing guidelines. It is the express request of the family that all attending be required to wear a face mask or covering. This is to ensure the health and safety of all. Betty’s death was the result of COVID-19 exposure and the family wishes to remind everyone to take all necessary precautions and be vigilant in protecting your own health and the health of others.
To share a memory of Betty or to leave an online message of condolence for her family, please visit www.baileyfh.com
Arrangements have been entrusted to Bailey Funeral Home in Vienna.