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MAY 2017


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

Faye Lane.

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

WV 25443.


McKinney Hearn Russell,

86, a

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

Brooklyn Eagle


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

Washington, D.C.

He then joined the International

Research and Exchanges Commission