Ina Dillard Russell (1868-1953)
Blandina Dillard, the thirteenth and last child of farmers America Frances Chaffin and Fielding Dillard, was born on February 18, 1868, in Oglethorpe County, near Lexington. She attended school locally before enrolling at the Palmer Institute in Oxford and the Lucy Cobb Institute in Athens. In 1889 she began teaching third grade at the Washington Street School in Athens.
In 1891 she married Richard Russell Sr., a young Athens lawyer. In 1906 he became one of the first three judges to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals, and in 1922 he was elected chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. He lived primarily in Atlanta and was home only on weekends.
Although her husband hired teachers to live with the family, Russell and her sister Patience Dillard often taught the Russell children. When the children went away to school, at the age of thirteen or fourteen, Russell would write long letters to them, with instructions on healthy living, the importance of studying while young, and proper behavior in all circumstances.
In 1932 the Georgia State College for Women (later Georgia College and State University), the alma mater of five of Russell's daughters, renamed its library to honor her. Although she never held public office herself, Russell received an unusual salute typically reserved for political leaders and statesmen—Georgia flags were lowered to half-mast in her honor on August 30, 1953, when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Gilbert C. Fite, Richard B. Russell, Jr., Senator from Georgia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).
Ina Dillard Russell, Roots and Ever Green: The Selected Letters of Ina Dillard Russell, ed. Sally Russell (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999).
Sally Russell, A Heart for Any Fate: The Biography of Richard Brevard Russell Sr. (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2004).
Sally Russell, Breslau, Ontario, Canada
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