Jan. 30, 2021

Helen Jackson Russell, 91, of Biloxi, peacefully passed away Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, at her home surrounded by family.

She was the daughter of Charles and Hannah Jackson of Franklin County’s Quentin community.

She was preceded in death by her husband, the Rev. Oscar L. Russell; her son, David Earl Russell; and her son-in-law, E. Dixie Beggs III.

Helen is survived by her daughter, Vickie Russell Beggs of Marietta, Ga.; her daughter-in-law, Kim Bailey Russell of Gulfport; her four grandchildren, Emily Elizabeth Beggs, Jessica Renee Russell, Kristina Janelle Bradley (Phillip) and U.S. Army Maj. Rodney Brock (Jessica); and her four great-grandchildren, Alaina and Walter Bradley, and Mason and Olivia Brock.

Born and raised in Quentin, Helen was one of nine children, and although she was not the youngest, she was, by far, the tiniest — earning her the nickname “Bug.”

After graduating from Meadville High School, she went on to begin her life working at a bank in Natchez.

She soon met Oscar L. Russell, who was also working in Natchez at the time, after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Helen and Oscar were married and spent 67-plus wonderfully adventurous years together.

In June, 1951, Helen became a first-time mom when she and Oscar welcomed their daughter, Vickie Ann Russell (Beggs), to the world followed by their son, David Earl Russell, in January, 1955.

She later went on to receive her Associate’s Degree from Clark Memorial College, followed by her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, both from Mississippi College.

Those who met Helen would frequently describe her as “small, but mighty,” and that was brought to fruition as she climbed the ladder within the Biloxi School System (and later Gulfport School System, as well) in which she held many titles including, but not limited to, Director of Elementary Education, Director of Special Projects, District Testing Coordinator and Psychometrist.

Helen was strong, smart, and driven, but she was equally compassionate, dedicated and joyful in everything she did.

She carried these traits through to her traveling and mission work with her husband Oscar, as well as her volunteer work as an advocate for World War II veterans and organizations that recognized and contributed to the assistance to veterans’ well-being.

She became an auxiliary rep for the Blinded Veterans Association to which she volunteered much of her time.

Helen excelled at all her jobs throughout life, including that of a mom, but it is her grandchildren who would win any argument saying that her greatest “accomplishment” in life was being the World’s Best MawMaw/Grandma.

Her titles ranged from MawMaw to Grandma to Memo, and being a grandmother brought her the greatest joy in life.

Despite having three granddaughters and a grandson, she never seemed to run out of energy, unconditional love, generosity and life lessons that she shared with them.

As a role model to them, she helped raise them to be the strong, resilient, kind and loving adults they are today.

This was seen to be true as her last moments on earth were spent with two of her granddaughters surrounding her bed sharing stories of their lives well spent with their MawMaw.

As Helen is now reunited with her beloved Oscar, her family hopes she is remembered for her courage, kindness, wisdom, love, and, most importantly, for her everlasting faithfulness in God.

The family can rejoice and celebrate her life knowing they will see her again.

She will be greatly missed by all who knew her, but her legacy and memory will carry on through them.

The family would like to thank all the wonderful nurses and caretakers who cared for her, many of whom became like family.

They all played a part in ensuring she lived her best life here on earth and transitioned peacefully to her eternal life in Heaven.

Due to COVID-19, the family had a small, private service at Bradford O’Keefe Funeral Home followed by a graveside service at Biloxi National Cemetery on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.

A memorial service will also be held this summer (COVID-19 permitting) at First Baptist Church of Biloxi with details to follow.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Blinded Veterans Association, Louisiana/Mississippi Regional Group, Inc., 335 West Bridge Street, Breaux Bridge, LA 70517 or to Landing Craft Support Museum, c/o Bonnie A. Steenbergen, Treasurer, 7345 W. Lakeside Drive, Littleton, CO 80125.

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