Archive for Thursday, September 27, 2007

Lifelong Lions fan

September 27, 2007

Bill Russell the Lansing High sports fan, not the NBA Hall-of-Famer has seen a lot of LHS sports teams come and go.

A regular at nearly every high school sporting event, Russell said, "I think I've been standing at the same spot near the press box at the football games for the past 25 years. I'm a pretty standard figure there."

Bill Russell

Bill Russell

Russell also occupies the same seats year-in and year-out at LHS boys and girls basketball games, enjoys attending soccer and volleyball matches and keeps the umpires honest when the baseball and softball season rolls around each year.

Russell isn't always a silent observer.

He's often heard giving advice to LHS athletes and can be downright critical of the officiating.

"I let them (the players) know how I feel : when they're doing bad," Russell said. "Once you get so old, you have to tell it how it is."

Russell said he usually takes one or two girls basketball players under his tutelage each year and mentioned the fact that he has several times been awarded the team's game ball in place of a team member's parent the typical recipient.

He said he first began following sports over 30 years ago when Will Barnes, a fellow Lions Club member, was LHS principal.

Eventually Russell became president of the Lansing Booster Club during the 1970s.

Nowadays Russell keeps busy on his computer with a group of seniors he meets with at 12:30 p.m. each Wednesday at the Kansas City Kansas Community College Leavenworth Center, 225 Cherokee.

The group, SLUG (Senior Lansing-Leavenworth Users Group) is a forum for seniors to get technical help and experience with computers.

"There's nothing formal about it," Russell said. "If somebody has a problem, they come in, and we try to help them. Generally it's mostly simple stuff : By the time we leave Wednesday, the problem's usually resolved."

NAME: Wilbur "Bill" Russell

ADDRESS: 1015 S. Fourth Street, Leavenworth

OCCUPATION: Retired

FAMILY: Maxine, deceased, wife; Jana Stafford, daughter; Travis, 25, grandson; Justin, 23, grandson; Rachel, 21, granddaughter, Katelin, 17, granddaughter

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN THE AREA, AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? "I moved to Leavenworth in 1962, moved out to Lansing in 1965 and have lived in my current home for 26 years. I was a service manager at Montgomery Ward & Co. and was transferred here by the company."

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT LANSING? "The size of the community. I know everybody and everybody knows me."

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR FUN? "I usually follow the sports pretty closely : do a lot of work with genealogy and spend a lot of time on the computer."

WHAT MIGHT SURPRISE PEOPLE ABOUT YOU? "What surprises most people is my age. I tell them I'm 79, and most people don't believe it because I'm so active."

WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED? "By my grandmother: 'Try to do something everyday that shows.'"

WHAT CLUBS OR ORGANIZATIONS DO YOU BELONG TO? Lansing Lions Club, Senior Lansing-Leavenworth Users Group, former LHS Booster Club president

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