It is with a heavy heart that we report the Coast Guard Foundation community has lost one of its founding fathers and one of its most ardent supporters, Capt. Carlton E. "Gene" Russell, USCGR (Ret.), passed away on Tuesday, April 9 in his home of Costa Mesa, California.
Gene, who was a partner at the law firm, Russell, Mirkovich & Morrow, served as a director of the Foundation from 1984 to 2010, after which he was conferred Trustee Emeritus status. Gene was with the Foundation as it transformed from the Coast Guard Academy Foundation, which served the cadets of the Coast Guard Academy, to the Coast Guard Foundation. During Gene's tenure the Foundation expanded its mission to serve the enlisted corps and their families. During the course of his service on the board, he held a leadership position on the Executive Committee.
CAPT Russell was instrumental in getting the Southern California Scholarship Golf Tournament off the ground, and led the organizing efforts for many years. Since its inception in 1992, the golf tournament has raised $813,000 for scholarship funds for the children of enlisted Coast Guard members.
In addition to the Southern California golf tournament that raised funds for the Foundation's scholarship program, Gene supported the Pacific Area Awards Dinner, the Family Disaster Relief Fund, and other Foundation initiatives.
"Gene was my mentor on the board, and I was inspired by the time we spent together over the years," said fellow director Chief Angelo Cleffi. "I was honored to know him and serve alongside him as a West Coast director and fellow Coastie," added Chief.
Gene graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science. After several years of sea duty in the Coast Guard, he received his Juris Doctorate, with Honors, from George Washington University Law School, where served as Legislation Editor of the George Washington University Law Review, Captain of the National Moot Court Team and was elected to Order of Coif.
Following an assignment as legal officer for the 11th Coast Guard District in Long Beach, California, Gene returned to sea until 1965, when he entered the private practice of law. He remained in the Coast Guard Reserves, retiring as a Captain.
Gene specialized in admiralty law, with an emphasis on passenger and seamen personal injury claims; the chartering and sale of vessels; Coast Guard inspection requirements for new and retrofit vessels; environmental, pollution and OSHA matters; and proceedings before the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other government agencies. He also served as an arbitrator, mediator and expert witness in maritime cases.
CAPT Russell was also a member of the American Association for Justice and the Propeller Club of the United States. He was named "Lawyer of the Year" by the Long Beach, CA Bar Association in 1991.
At this time, memorial service details have not been announced by his family. Once we have that information, we will surely pass it along. In the meantime, please keep the Russell family in your thoughts and prayers.