In Memoriam: Jim Russ

Yesterday, I lost one of my best and closest friends ever. The O&P community at large has also lost a true friend. Jim Russ passed away on Saturday, Feb. 25, leaving behind his wife and best friend Janis, three daughters, other family members, friends, and a long list of students who will never forget him. Jim was a “Warrior for Professionalism” for orthotics and prosthetics and never lost his passion for promoting O&P as a profession, lifting us up beyond the standards that would be required for an industry.

Jim spent a quarter of a century as the director of Orthotics at Northwestern University and no student who ever sat through one of his lectures will ever forget what he taught them about orthotics and life. He challenged everyone to be their best. Jim offered encouragement when he felt it was needed and a kick in the seat of your pants when such was warranted. No student of Jim’s has ever heard someone refer to an orthosis as a brace without remembering his constant preaching about the difference. It has also been my pleasure to be claimed by Jim and Janis as their son for more than 20 years, with me fondly referring to them as Mom and Dad.

Today, if you hear a bell ring, know that it is because Jim has been promoted to “Angel First Class.”

Visitation will be on Wednesday, Feb. 29 from 5 pm until 9 pm at the N.H. Scott & Hanekamp Funeral Home in Waukegan, Ill. Funeral services will be Thursday, March 1 at 10:30 am at the funeral home with interment to follow at the Sunset Memorial Lawns Cemetery in Northbrook, Ill. The address of the funeral home is N.H. Scott & Hanekamp Funeral Home, 1240 Waukegan Road, Glenview, Ill., 60025; phone (847) 998-1020.

The family has asked that memorials be directed to the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute. This was a cause very special to Jim, and where he worked very early during his long and distinguished career. Checks should be made payable to “Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute” and sent to Janis Russ. She will then send the checks collectively to Warm Springs so that the funds can be directed to a project that was important to Jim. Donations, along with any sympathy cards or messages, should be sent to Janis Russ, c/o N.H. Scott & Hanekamp Funeral Home.

Rest in peace, my friend. — by Michael Burton

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