The Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist are saddened to report that our brother Bernard Francis Felix Russell SSJE died on 11 January 2016 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Medford MA in the ninety-fourth year of his life and the forty-eighth year of his religious profession.
Born at Alexandria VA in 1922, Brother Bernie grew up in the Washington area. It was in Washington that he first came into contact with the Episcopal Church through the ministry of the Parish of the Ascension and St. Agnes. He graduated from Central High School, Washington in 1938 and served for two years in the United States Air Force as a bombardier navigator during the Second World War. Following the War he worked first as a reservations clerk for Colonial (later Eastern) Airlines, New York City and then for Peterson Travel Agency in Garden City, Long Island. He would often take his passport to work with him as he would never know if he would be needed to fill in as a flight attendant or assist with a tour group. He came to our community at the Monastery in Cambridge in 1962. The thing which drew him to our community was our life of worship. He believed that worship was central to our life, and everything else was peripheral. He made his life profession on 17 November 1968. In the community, Brother Bernie filled a variety of roles: he taught Sunday School at the Parish of St. Augustine and St. Martin’s; he lived and worked at St. John’s, Bowdoin St and for a number of years acted as Treasurer of the Society. He will be best remembered however for the years he lived at Emery House where he was the cook and gardener. Guests will remember him there creating delicious meals or spending endless hours on the tractor mowing the lawns. He loved nothing more than chatting with guests over coffee or sitting in the refectory gazing out the window at the meadow. Often when brothers travelled to other parts of the country, the first person former guests would ask about was Brother Bernard. Once when asked why guests so often spoke of the difference Bernie’s presence made to their experience of Emery House or the Monastery he responded “I guess it’s because I am happy, and that influences everyone. I’m not trying to do anything special, it’s just me.”
For the last number of years Brother Bernie was cared for by the Little Sisters of the Poor at their residence in Somerville.
A Wake will be held at the Jeanne Jugan Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Somerville on Friday, 15 January 2016 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM with the Office of the Dead at 4:30 PM.
Little Sisters of the Poor, 186 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143
Eucharist of the Resurrection
The Eucharist of the Resurrection will be celebrated at the Monastery Chapel on Saturday, 16 January 2016 at 11:00 AM. Cremation will follow.
Monastery Chapel, 980 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02138
His ashes will be interred in the brothers Memorial Garden at Emery House.
The Brothers invite you to share your memories and messages: