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Robert 'Bob' Rowland Russell
Russell obit photo

Robert “Bob” Rowland Russell Jr., 85, Chairman of the Board of Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate, from Columbia South Carolina passed away on the morning of May 23, 2015. In Bob’s true spirit of living life to the fullest, he perished doing what he loved most in the world, flying. He was born on February 15, 1930 in Florida to the late Robert Rowland and Mary Rogers Russell Sr. Raised in Columbia, Bob attended Columbia High School. 

For Bob, flying has been many things: a dream, a pass time, a service to his country, a performance and a true love. As a teenager in Columbia, he flew gasoline models, dreaming of the day he would fly real planes. His dreams came when he was a sophomore at Clemson University. He organized and served as the first president of the Clemson Aero Club where he soloed in a Piper Cub and accumulated his first 400 flight hours. In 1952, he graduated from Clemson with a degree in Industrial Education and his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Immediately after graduation, Russell entered the military flight training and received his jet pilot wings in July 1953. During his Air Force service, he attended all weather fighter school at Moody Air Force Base and served in Labrador during the Korean War. After his discharge, he joined the South Carolina Air National Guard, serving overseas in Spain during an International crisis. He flew F-94s, F-80s, F-86s, F-104s and F102s, which contributed substantially to his total of more than 8,000 flight hours. “Touching the Face of God,” which was published in 1992, was a book written by Bob about his love of the sky. Bob performed as stunt pilot in many airshows across the country. Bob’s love for his country and people lead him to service in many areas of the community. He was the Chairman of the Association of U.S. Army in 2002, Executive Committee of the Celebration Freedom Foundation from 2000-2008, Chairman of the Salvation Army for Columbia, SC 1999-2002 and Advisory Board for the Salvation Army from 1982 to 2002. Russell has been honored over the years in several ways, including: Aviation Hall of Fame in 2003, Who’s Who in American Aviation in 1975, Outstanding Americans in the South in 1970 & 1971 and received the Exceptional Service Medal in 1962.

People often described Bob as true Renaissance man, he graced the stage as an actor in many local theater productions at the Towne Theater, an excellent piano player and was a former member of the Palmetto Mastersingers, and an avid golfer who regularly shot in the 70’s and made 5 holes-in-one during his lifetime.

Perhaps more than anything, it is Bob’s endeavor into the real estate industry that has created a legacy fitting of the true legend that we was. On April 1st, 1965 Bob opened the doors on a great adventure when he started Bob Russell Realty. With only one agent Bob used his determination to succeed as businessman, and succeed he did. Six months into his new business he hired the late Abb Jeffcoat. The two would become great friends and eventually partners, forming Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate. Over the past 50 years of doing business in the Midland’s of South Carolina, Russell & Jeffcoat Real Estate has grown into the premier company in the area. As the number one real estate company in the Midlands, Russell & Jeffcoat boasts over 450 agents and 12 offices. As titan in the real estate industry Bob served as President of the Columbia Realtors Association in 1973, a member of Committee 100, President of the Sales & Marketing Council for the HBA, The President of the CMLS and recently received a lifetime achievement award form the HBA’s Sales and Marketing Council. Bob’s way of doing business has been the vision and direction for the company for many years; his way is with integrity in everything that he did, on the golf course, in the sky or in the board room. Caring about people, serving people of the community was the focus of Bob’s life. In 1996 Bob, along with Abb were awarded the Order of the Palmetto in honor of their service to the community.

Bob was joined in passing by his beloved four-legged friend Rambo, who will also be deeply missed.

He was predeceased by his first wife and mother of his two children, June Rodgers Russell. Surviving are his wife Patricia Cooper Russell, children “Rip” Robert Rowland Russell III and Rebecca Rene Russell, step children Sloane Ellis, Sarah Cooper, Tricia Harris. Known as “Grand Bob” to two step-grand children Cooper Ellis and Riley Ellis. 

A private burial service will be held for family members at Greenlawn Memorial Park, followed by a public service for Robert “Bob” Russell to be held at 2:30 today, May 27, 2015, at Shandon Presbyterian Church, 607 Woodrow Street, Columbia, SC 29205. The family will receive friends immediately following the service. Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to The Salvation Army and Clemson University.

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