Reflections on

Clyde Arthur Russell

by his son, Clyde Bannister Russell

June 13, 1994


My favorite picture of Dad was taken not too long before his death.. Notice the smile wrinkles by his eyes. He really did smile a lot. He had not had an easy life by any means. In fact it was full of very hard daily labors, and many uncertainties. And many of the hardships were a result of a deliberate choice made early in his career as a mechanical draftsman and teacher, to leave an excellent career and a very promising future at the Automotive Institute in Pontiac Michigan and bring his small family West where there was more promise that his children could have more friends and activity in the Church. Mother also sacrificed for that move. She had just been beginning to fix up their very own home there, with some nice furniture, and a feeling of permanence. His fine training in Michigan was not needed or rewarded in the West. Here he simply did what he had to, for the survival of his family. About then, the Great Depression hit the United States, and he and Mom toughed it out as did millions of others.

My personal memories of course don't kick in until the late 30's or early 40's. But even when the economy improved and Dad eventually got his own business of repairing electric refrigeration motors, the work was hard. He stood up to work, at a long metal workbench, in the rear portion of an open and very breezy warehouse which, during a later period, he leased from one of his customers. When I was a teen-age boy I would occasionally "go to work with him" to help out a little (rather little, I'm afraid) and found how cold it could be in that shop during the winter and how hard that concrete floor could get after standing on it for 8 hours or so (and many of his days went longer).

When I was attending U. C. Berkeley, Dad would drive me to Sather Gate in the morning, and from there go back to his shop which was not too far away in Oakland. This went on for year after year, since I never owned a car before I married Catherine.

For many years he nursed an old '36 Dodge sedan which is the first family car that I remember. My first memories of it were in connection with our family trips to Yosemite. It had real running boards. The running board on one side was packed with luggage, as was the back of the car. Inside, the family crowded into the small front and rear seats, and then a small child's wooden chair was put sideways against the blockaded rear door, and Joan or I sat on that for the trip. On the way up the Merced Canyon on the last leg of the journey, Dad would sometimes have to hike down the canyon from the roadway to fill a canvas bucket with river water to coax the car a few more miles along the hot, steep road. I don't remember feeling crowded or insecure, just snug and well taken care of. Dad must have had a lot of faith to keep taking that car to Yosemite for so long!

In the car's later years, it was replaced by a newer 'family car' but it remained the commute vehicle for Dad for quite a while. Eventually it's heater quit working. One window was broken and couldn't close. It gradually deteriorated until it was a shell of its former glory. But he kept it running. It was a cold commute for Dad on winter days, to a shop that had no heat either.

I'm glad that Dad lived most of his life before the age of diet-consciousness. As we all did when we were growing up, he loved a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs. I'm glad that he could enjoy it without guilt. Although some may think that his diet may have caused him to return Home earlier than he otherwise might have, it is my belief that he had "finished his course" and returned to a Victor's Crown.. The hard part, of course, is the nearly twenty years of loneliness for Mother that might not have been so long otherwise. Still, who knows all the times and purposes appointed unto man? Perhaps we do not have as much control over our destinies as we think we do anyway. And perhaps it is a very good thing.

Dad liked to make candy also. Mom later told me that this was his self-treatment for discouragement or depression, but I never noticed that aspect of it when I was growing up. Every now and then he would make some wonderful "divinity fudge", or out would come some bulk milk chocolate, and the mint extract, and he would mix up a batch of his special recipe. It was terrific.

Although I'm sure that Dad most probably took his turn at appropriate intervals and in appropriate ways, at bearing verbal testimony of his faith in his Savior Jesus Christ, I do not specifically remember such occasions as I do with my Mother. The perspective of time and age has taught me that still water can indeed run very deep. Also, his need for the recognition of his peers was very minimal. I have learned that the quiet, steady, service and dependability that was the hallmark of his life bears just as great a testimony of the Master whom he serves as does verbalization. Dad's lifestyle of patience is a great testament to his faith in his Master - on whom he was humbly willing to wait for the resolution to life's inequities that were not resolvable by human effort alone.

As I look backward, Dad always seemed older, but not frail, to me. I suppose that is because that most of my recollections of him focus about in the 50's and 60's when I was in my 20's or so.. During that period he would have been right around my current age, namely about 60, although I don't recall ever being aware of his age. He was just the same Dad as ever. Kind of an eternal person. Unassuming would be a good description. I'd like to be more like him. How's that for a tribute for one's Father?

I remember Dad and Mom as a good team. I suppose any partnership develops over the years, and by the time that I came along they seemed to function seamlessly in most of life's endeavors. I saw them as one. It was only as I grew older that I began to notice those mortal cracks that are common to the human condition, in the seams of the unity that had nurtured me during my younger years. And it is only as I grew older still that I have returned to an even fuller appreciation of two very faithful and wonderful people who were subject to some of the weaknesses and inadequacies as every one of us has, and who were therefore not each the "perfect" mate that the other would have desired - but who, with a foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His plan of Happiness, were able to keep things in an eternal perspective, live out those more difficult times of frustration with endurance if not genuine patience, to keep their covenants to one another and to Heavenly Father, and to complete love's true work.

To me, this makes them all the greater! They demonstrated the true plan at work, not a romanticized, fictional view of the human condition and the Lord's Plan of Happiness. It has been true love at work. Not a storybook love. It is two real people in a covenant relationship with Christ, under an apprenticeship to learn to love as He loves. It says to me: 'if they can do it, so can I". They have made, in my eyes, the Lord's Plan of Salvation a plan for all of the people, not just for the perfected ones. It is therefore a plan for me. I have seen it work with real people, and I therefore have faith that it can work for me.