Mary Lou Russell, beloved wife of Robert R. Russell, mother of Jacqueline Lee Petchauer (husband Bill)and Craig William Russell, and grandmother of Katherine Lee Stranz and Christopher Russell Stranz (wife Jenny) passed into the hands of God on Friday, November 30, 2018. She is also survived by her brother Robert Joseph Rosenquist and sister Carol Theresa Osborn, along with many nieces and nephews.
Mary Lou was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 8, 1934 and raised in Detroit, Michigan where she attended St. Mary’s of Redford School. She moved with her family to Phoenix, Arizona in 1952, and subsequently joined United Airlines based out of both Boston and Denver as a “stewardess”.
In 1956, she left the airline when her mother Emily Rosenquist passed away, returning to Phoenix to be near her baby sister Carol and taking employment with Ramada Inn Hotels.
Mary Lou married Robert R. Russell in 1960 after a whirlwind romance. Bob was working for IBM in computer sales. Over their 58 years of marriage, they pursued the computer leasing business, which took them to Los Angeles, Chicago and back to Los Angeles, before founding their own computer leasing business, Systems Marketing Inc. (SMI) in 1970 in Phoenix. The company was sold in 1988, when they moved into real estate development.
If two things stand out about Mary Lou, it was her strong Catholic faith and her fierce love for her family. Mary Lou repeated the rosary every day of her life, and was open and giving to people of all faiths. Her health was greatly tested in her final years, but she refused to concede defeat. Each day presented another opportunity to hit the treadmill and scoff at the hand she had been dealt, always putting her best foot forward.
Mary Lou always insisted on doing the right thing, and following the rules of the road, from putting the recyclables in the right can to not allowing Bob’s friends to inhabit their guest house until they had married. She never met a party she couldn’t host or a holiday she couldn’t decorate, throwing many memorable fiestas at their Las Conchas compound in Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
Her celebration mass will be held Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 10 a.m. at St. Theresa Catholic Church, 5045 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix, Arizona, followed by internment at the St. Francis Catholic Cemetery Mausoleum, 2033 N. 48th Street, Phoenix, Arizona.
A reception will be held afterward at the Russell residence.
Contributions can be made to St. Vincent de Paul @stvincentdepaul.net.
Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com
Remember the many Fiesta Bowl parties she and Bob hosted in Phoenix for fellow Nebraskans—my condolences on your loss—
Norm & Betty Mapes
Our thoughts and prayers with the family
Jim & Kelly Spahn
Our hearts are saddened for your great loss. We pray that God’s comfort and peace will be upon you at this time and during the days to come., until you meet again. You were truly blessed to have such a wonderful lady in your lives.
I am surprised and saddened by this news. May God give you strength during this difficult time and the days, weeks and months to come. I hope that you all remember the great times and memories, and that she is now in a place where there is no pain, only joy.
My condolence is the same Mary Lou Russell that was head of The Commonwealth Foundation if so she as an awesome person.