Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune: Bob Russell (AKA Roberto Solarian)
- As many of you can attest, Bob was a great cook, a dedicate RPCV, and frequently prepared special dishes that he learned from his Peace Corps days in Ethiopia. Ed
Saying good-bye to Robert Russell
The Sulphur River ran a little slower for a few ticks of the clock Saturday (May 22) as it and many others took a moment of silence to remember a friend, with the passing of scholar, author and northeast Texas historian Robert Traylor Russell.
Russell was the author of several books, a staunch defender of property owners and their rights, and the webmaster for one of the best websites concerning the history, beauty, and importance of the Sulphur River and the countryside it flows through.
Though he traveled around the globe in service to his country in the Peace Corps and other organizations, Russell was famous locally for the website, www.sulphurriver.net and its use in the opposition of Marvin Nichols Reservoir.
His comrades and colleagues within the Sulphur Oversight Society and Friends United for a Safe Environment call his passing nothing less than the tragic loss of a friend and a blow to the fight to preserve the land and heritage threatened by the proposed reservoir.
One look at the website gives you an instant insight into Russell's intelligence, thoroughness and perfectionism. One can gain an immediate picture of the historical significance and pristine nature of the river within a few pages of the detailed and systematically organized site.
Page after page shows the pictures you would see if you were driving down one of the dusty roads in the bottoms and puts you there on the banks of the river as if you were there with fishing pole in hand.
With his passing, friends call the website his memorial. Along with his deeply intellectual books on mathematics and history, sulphurriver.net leaves Russell's legacy permanently stamped on the mind of everyone who sees it.
One of his friends and fellow author, Dr. Jim Presley of Texarkana, said "On May 24, 2002, Rob launched his website in support of the fight against the Marvin Nichols proposal: SulphurRiver.net Under Rob's hand and mind it has become a treasure trove of our heritage, worth more than gold as a source for those historians and ordinary citizens wanting to know what really was going on in our time and what this great land was like and why thousands were fighting to preserve it.
He supplied the website with aerial photos of various sections of the properties that risked inundation, and he posted on the site what we historians call "primary sources," documents as well as commentary. It's one of the most impressive websites I have seen; we all have benefited from it."
Russell's skills were not without a strong foundation. He was the son of well known attorney Traylor Russell and his mother, Arlene Wilson Russell was recognized by the Texas House of Representatives for her work there. He was also a Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Texas.
In his eulogy on Saturday morning (May 22), Sam Russell called his brother passionate, unconventional, unpredictable and accomplished, making note of his books, his fluency in eight languages and above all else, the fact that he personally made sure that his mother never saw the inside of a nursing home, caring for her until she passed away at the age of 98.
"He has traveled the world been places and seen many things that most of us will never see in many lifetimes," said Sam, "Bob was a student of history and could converse easily with just about anyone whether it be Russian history, Titus County history or any other part of the world. Bob had a brilliant mind."
So it is with sadness, that like his brother did at Snow Hill on Saturday, May 22, the Sulphur says sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios, bon voyage and farewell to its friend, Robert Traylor Russell.