Why We’re Here: Bobby Russell, Jr.

Bobby Russell, Jr.”Junior” was a happy, hard-working man – the kind of man you could really count on. He had been a City of Memphis Firefighter for 16 years and he loved his job. He loved saving lives and protecting property.

His wife, Dell, met Junior when she was just 14 years-old. They had been married for 23 years and had three beautiful children: Tracy, 20; Wes, 16; and Tray, 13. Junior wanted the best for his family and worked hard to get it.

So in July 1995, he and Dell and had just bought their dream home on four acres in the country. They were happily working in the yard together on the afternoon of the 29th. Dell was on the side of the yard and Junior was out front using a gas weed eater to clear some brush, when Dell heard a terrible crash. Her husband had been hit by an off-duty police officer and thrown 49 feet. He never regained consciousness. The driver was charged with vehicular homicide, driving while under the influence of an intoxicant, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

Dell says in the initial shock she was “so, so sad and scared. I didn’t know what would happen to us.” Twenty-three years later, she recognizes that she has now been WITHOUT the father of her children as long as she was married to him. She often wonders what she and Junior would be doing since the kids are grown. She imagines he would be retired from the Memphis Fire Department (MFD), enjoying playing golf, going to the lake, and skiing, but most importantly loving his six grandchildren.

He meant so much to so many. He was a coach for the kids at Brownsville Road Shelby Youth Sports and had so many good friends through MFD. But his greatest love was for his wife and kids. Now remarried, Dell says, “I will always be grateful for our life together. My greatest gift from Junior is our three amazing kids.”