Jim Russell, upon his induction in the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
Jim Russell receives an award from Elenora Mauritson in 2009.
James Thomas Russell, 67, a former USTA Southern president and longtime tennis volunteer and official, died on Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
Born on July 28, 1944 in Columbus, Georgia, he was the son of Ethel Horne Russell of Birmingham, Alabama and the late James T. Russell. He graduated from Central High School and Florida State University where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.
He is survived by his wife and three children, Frances Mattison Russell and Thomas Sloan Russell of Charleston, S. C. and James Mattison Russell of Greenwood, S. C. He is also survived by his sister, Judy Russell Adams of Birmingham, Alabama. He was predeceased by his brother, Jackson Barnette Russell.
He worked for Belton Bagging Company of Belton in the early 1970’s, was a salesman for Bowden Manufacturing of Bowden, Georgia for over 35 years, and most recently, was employed in sales by RNG Collection of Columbia.
He was a well known tennis volunteer, official and referee. He refereed the Palmetto Championships, South Carolina’s junior qualifying tournament held in Belton every June for 36 years. The Palmetto has been recognized as the Junior Tournament of the Year by both South Carolina and the Southern Section numerous times. He served several terms on the Belton Tennis Association board and served a 2-year term as president. He was instrumental in several fund raising drives to improve and build new facilities at the Belton Tennis Center.
He served on the board of the South Carolina Tennis Association for several years and was the state president in 1983 and 1984. During his time in office he established the South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation and the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame, which is located in the Belton depot.
He served as chairman of the South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation for four years. He served on the board and Management Committee of the 9-state USTA Southern Section and was the president in 1993 and 1994. He served as the Southern delegate to the USTA in 1995 and 1996 and was elected to the USTA Board of Directors for a two year term in 1997. During his term on the Board the USTA built and opened Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York.
He was recognized by the USTA Southern Section with their two highest volunteer service awards: the Jacobs’ Bowl in 1994 and the Charles B. Morris Award in 1999. He has been inducted into three Hall of Fames, the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame (1991), the ITA Men’s College Tennis Hall of Fame (2003) and the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame (2005).
He served as the Referee for the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Tennis Championships and the NCAA Men’s Tennis Championships as well as a number of other top college tournaments throughout the country. He was the chairman of the Men’s and Women’s senior event played at the U. S. Open for and hosted the "Final 8" party for 8 years.
He was a member of the Belton Presbyterian Church for 40 years, where he served as an Elder and Sunday School teacher and served on numerous church committees. He established "Pig Out With The Presbyterians," a fundraising barbeque he spearheaded each fall for the past 20 years.
Rex Maynard, a Belton resident, USTA Southern past president and USTA Delegate, commented, "Not only was Jim a great friend, but a great leader and wonderful influence to so many. It’s the end of an era, and tennis will never be the same without him."
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 Friday morning, June 29 at the Belton Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be sent to one of the following:
- Belton Presbyterian Church, PO Box 601, Belton, S. C. 29627
- South Carolina Tennis Patrons Foundation, PO Box 843, Belton, S. C. 29627
- Belton Rescue Squad, 107 South Main Street, Belton, S. C. 29627