THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
same opportunity he had enjoyed with
In the mid-1950s Mr. Ross and his
family moved to California, where he
taught in the Fresno Unified School Dis-
trict. He also taught English as a second
language in evening classes. He worked
construction during the summer, joking
that his summer job allowed him to
afford to teach the rest of the year.
In 1964, he was awarded a Fulbright
Scholarship to Belgium. After returning
from Europe, Mr. Ross joined the U.S.
Foreign Service. He served overseas in
Algeria, Dahomey (now Benin), Camer-
oon, Côte d’Ivoire and Pakistan, along
with assignments in Washington, D.C.
In addition to responsibilities as
cultural affairs officer and public affairs
officer, he taught as a guest instructor in
host-country universities. His unassum-
ing and genuine interest in and affection
for others resulted in lifelong friendships
with many people worldwide.
Mr. Ross retired from the Foreign Ser-
vice in 1989, after service on the Foreign
Service Grievance Board.
The Rosses moved to Shepherdstown,
W. Va., in 1977. There they volunteered
with Meals on Wheels, the Shepherd-
stown Community Club, Friends of
Music, the Millbrook Orchestra and the
White House. Mr. Ross was named the
National Conservation Training Center’s
Volunteer of the Year in 2008.
Active long into retirement, Mr. Ross
loved his 10 acres and his vegetable gar-
den. In 1997, at age 73, he rode a bicycle
along 1,000 km of the Loire River in
France and was featured in French media
as “the old man from America.”
His biking tours included the North
Rim of the Grand Canyon, New England
and Canada, as well as the countryside
surrounding Shepherdstown. The Rosses
enjoyed numerous Elderhostel adven-
tures, as well as intergenerational trips
with his older grandson.
Sherman Ross was preceded in death
by his son, Glenn “Stephen” Stephenson
Ross, and siblings Otis Ross and Betty
He is survived by his wife of 70 years,
Elinor; two daughters, Maylene (and her
husband, R. Luther Reisbig) and Laurie
(and her husband, Charles F. Wieland);
grandchildren Katharine and Kerrick
Reisbig, and Eleanor, Duncan and Lil-
lian Wieland; four sisters, Flora Russell
of West Virginia, Fanny Ruth Blum and
Mona Sue Thornburg of California, and
Sally Mae Taylor of Arizona; and many
nieces and nephews.
Contributions in his memory may be
made to Hospice of the Panhandle, 330
Hospice Lane, Kearneysville WV 25430 or
to SAIL (Shepherdstown Area Indepen-
dent Living), PO Box 209, Shepherdstown
McKinney Hearn Russell,
retired Foreign Service officer with the
U.S. Information Agency, died on Feb.
17, 2016, at The Meadow Green Home
in Waltham, Mass., surrounded by his
The eldest of four, Mr. Russell was
born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. The son
of a linotype setter for the
he was the first in his family to attend
university, graduating from Yale with a
degree in Russian studies in 1950.
Mr. Russell’s lifelong affinity for music
began in childhood as a church choris-
ter. At Yale, he sang in the Glee Club. He
discovered an avid enthusiasm for opera,
attending the Wagner Ring Cycle perfor-
mances at Bayreuth.
After university, Mr. Russell served
in the U.S. Army in Germany. While
in Munich, he met and married Lydie
Boccara, with whom he shared his life,
his passion for opera and all his Foreign
Service tours of duty until her untimely
death in 1998.
During the 1950s in Munich, Mr.
Russell worked as a translator, reporter,
editor and newsroommanager at Radio
Liberty, broadcasting behind the Iron
Curtain. As a special events correspon-
dent, he accompanied Nikita Khrushchev
on his 1959 visit to the United States, and
then was assigned to manage the Voice of
America’s European and USSR broad-
In his first tour as a U.S. Foreign Ser-
vice officer, Mr. Russell served as cultural
affairs officer in Kinshasa, accompanied
by his wife and their first two children,
from 1962 to 1965. He was then assigned
to Moscow (1969-1971), where son Kyle
was added to the family.
Mr. Russell subsequently served in
Bonn (1971-1975), Rio de Janeiro (1978-
1982), and both Madrid and Beijing dur-
ing the 1980s. In Beijing, he achieved the
rank of Minister Counselor and worked
to reestablish better relations following
the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
In his final overseas post—as coun-
selor of the U.S. Information Agency, that
organization’s senior career position—
Mr. Russell set up the first American
cultural centers in the newly indepen-
dent (former Soviet) states during the
early 1990s. Throughout his diplomatic
career, he not only mastered many
languages, but developed a deep cultural
understanding of the countries where he
In 1993 Mr. Russell served as diplomat
in residence at The Fletcher School of
Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
On retiring from the Foreign Service in
1994, Mr. Russell and his wife settled in
He then joined the International
Research and Exchanges Commission