Alabama Academy of Honor

Julia Walker Russell

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1975.

Julia Walker Russell's dedicated work as an educator and philanthropist has enriched the lives of the people of Alexander City for more than four decades.

Born in Attalla in 1907, she moved to Alexander City in 1929 when she married Thomas D. Russell. Entering spiritedly into the Russell family's tradition of service to the town, she organized a score of activities to benefit the employees of the Russell Mills and their families. By 1951, when when she was named the Alexander City Woman of the Year, she had compiled an impressive record of civic achievement.

For instance, during the wartime teacher shortage, she taught without pay at the Russell Mills School, and after 1945, served as its superintendent. In her spare time, she helped found the Alexander City Library, was chairman of the annual Russell Mills Christmas ball, volunteered at the Russell Hospital, and directed the youth work at the First Baptist Church of Alexander City. In 1953, she founded a must-admired ecumenical place of worship, the Church in the Pines at Lake Martin.

As a continuing ambassador of good will for Alabama's cotton crop and textile products, she frequently entertains textile leaders in her home, and has served on the Alabama Cotton Promotion Committee and the Alabama Maid of Cotton promotion.

In addition, Huntingdon College, from which she graduated in 1928, has always claimed a great deal of her attention. In 1954, the college honored her loyalty and "distinguished service to homemaking and civic culture" by giving her its Alumni Achievement Award. From 1955 to 1957, she served as the president of the Alumni Association, and in 1963, was honored by the dedication of the Julia Walker Russell dining hall on the Huntingdon campus. In 1970, she became the first alumna to receive an honorary degree in the history of the college when she was made a Doctor of Humane Letters and cited for her "zealous contribution to education."

Never one to rest on her laurels, Mrs. Russell is currently the vice president of the Huntingdon board of trustees, and in addition to her work as public relations officer for the Russell Mills, serves on the Woman's Committee of the Spain Rehabilitation Hospital and the Committee for Self-Study of the Southern Association of Colleges.

She is active in the work of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, the Magna Charta Dames, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Colonial Dames.

The Russells live at Russwood in Alexander City and are visited frequently by their three daughters and eleven grandchildren.