Day At The Track

Walter Russell 86, Hall of Fame official dies

11:47 AM 23 Dec 2012 NZDT
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Walter Russell Jim Simpson (left) and Walter Russell
Walter Russell
Jim Simpson (left) and Walter Russell
USTA Photo

Walter Russell, 86, a member of the harness racing Living Hall of Fame died on Saturday, Dec. 22 after having suffered a heart attack on Dec. 15. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Russell, the son of Hall of Fame driver-trainer Sanders Russell, was long one of the sport's most respected racing officials. After beginning in the sport as a groom for his father's Grand Circuit stable he later gravitated to the front side. He worked in the stand at most of the sport's major raceways, including the Meadowlands, Red Mile, Pompano Park and Brandywine Raceway.

He was a graduate of the University of Alabama, received a masters of arts from Peabody College, a master degree in music from Vanderbilt University and a doctorate from Emory University. He also taught at several universities. An accomplished musician, he also attended the Julliard School in New York City and often entertained by playing the piano.

"Everybody was in awe of what an extraordinary racing official Walter was, but I think what I and many others will remember most was his counsel, intellect, friendship and of course, his wit," Hambletonian Society president and CEO Tom Charters, one of Mr. Russell's closest friends, said in an interview with "He was a man who loved the sport for the past 80 years and is someone who is irreplaceable.

"He had the respect of horsemen universally," Charters added. "He was also beloved by his peers in the judges' stand. I remember one racing official who once told me that harness racing with Walter was just fun!"

from the U.S. Trotting Association

Courtesy of the United States Trotting Association Web Newsroom

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