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Russell served on the board for Citizens Trust Bank, the Atlanta branch of the NAACP and the Business Council of Georgia, among many other civic, business and community groups.

As a philanthropist, Russell and his wife were prolific, donating to Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Tuskegee University and Morehouse College. In 2009, the family donated $1 million to help expand the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding.

The lobby of the building is named for Russell and his wife. In 1991, Russell was honored with the Horatio Alger Award, which highlights community leaders who’ve achieved much by way of hard work and commitment to excellence.

Russell also worked alongside civil rights leaders and counted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a friend.

Russell married educator Otelia Hackney in 1956 and the couple had three children. Russell’s two sons, Michael and H. Jerome Russell, serve as CEO and President of their father’s company respectively. Russell’s daughter also works on the company’s executive board.

To see some of his most famous buildings, click here.

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