Sunday, December 10, 2023

James Anthony Russell, 74, former vice president of United Way of America Community Initiatives

SHALLOTTE — James Anthony Russell, 74, was born in Nobber, a village in Ireland’s County Meath, to Samuel and Elizabeth and was one of nine children. He was educated at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland, and received his masters from St. Louis University.

In 1974, he married Anne C. McKenna of County Cavan, Ireland, at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Chicago, Ill. They were blessed with three sons.

Mr. Russell lived in service to the community and for the good of others. His work with the Catholic church brought him to Florida in 1967, where he served the parish community of Jacksonville’s Assumption Catholic Church and was a teacher at Bishop Kenny High School.

In 1973, he began a 25-year association with the United Way of America when he accepted a position in Tampa as their director of agency relations, later moving to Tallahassee and taking on the executive director role of the United Way of Big Bend. He moved to North Carolina in 1990, building the United Way of Greater Durham until it was merged with Raleigh and Chapel Hill branches into the Triangle United Way, where he was the vice president of Community Initiatives.

Following that, he spent several years as executive director of the Durham County Hospital Corporation’s Foundation For Better Health of Durham. In 2002, he moved to Brunswick County, where he was instrumental in the founding of Brunswick Senior Resources Inc., which provides a number of services and resources for the county’s senior citizens, including the crucial Meals on Wheels program.

He leaves his beloved wife, Anne; son, Seamus, and his wife, Jean, and granddaughter, Maeve, of Durham, N.C.; son, Sean, and his wife, Lisa, and granddaughter, Maude, of Los Angeles, Calif.; and son, Brian of Shallotte. He is also survived by his brother, Arthur, and sisters, Bridget and Roisin of Ireland. He also leaves a legion of beloved in-laws, nieces, nephews, and animals who inhabit all parts of the globe.

He was an active member of his church communities: Assumption Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; Christ the King in Tampa, Fla.; Blessed Sacrament in Tallahassee, Fla.; Immaculate Conception in Durham, N.C.; and Saint Brendan the Navigator in Shallotte, N.C.

A funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, April 8, at Saint Brendan the Navigator in Shallotte with Father Aiden Foynes presiding. A memorial service and burial will be held in Ireland at a later date.

Mr. Russell believed it was a gift to be able to help his neighbors and the less fortunate, and in his honor, we ask that you consider ways to be of service to your community. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to Brunswick Senior Resources’ Meals on Wheels Program in his honor.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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