Erin McWhirter Russell died Dec. 26, 2019, as a result of complications from acute asthma and hypertension. She was 70 years old. She was born in Lubbock, Texas, on Sept. 28, 1949, to Allene Stephens McWhirter and Glen McWhirter. She lived in Fort Worth until the age of nine, when her parents bought a 50-acre farm south of Alvarado. She graduated from Alvarado High School in 1967 and attended Texas Tech, then North Texas State, then West Texas State and UT-Arlington. She married Steve Russell, her high school and lifetime love, in December of 1969. They welcomed a son, Joseph, in July 1970. Erin and Steve celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Dec. 6, 2019.
Erin worked while Steve attended Texas A&M and its Veterinary College. After his graduation, she worked while Steve completed a large animal internship at Oklahoma State in Stillwater. They then moved to Houston as Steve joined a vet school classmate in a specialized equine vet clinic there. They moved to Stephenville, Texas, where Steve opened an equine veterinary practice, in 1983. Erin managed the practice until Steve’s retirement in 2009. They then moved to Athens, Texas, to be near their son and grandchildren.
Erin was a remarkable woman. She was smart, strong, loving, funny and had a sharp wit, lighting up a room with her fabulous personality and smile. She had more common sense than anyone else we knew, and was the family touchstone throughout her adulthood. She read avidly and was better educated in the humanities than most college graduates. She could always be counted upon to say what she really thought, and her advice was always very wise. She loved her family boundlessly, always remembered the birthdays of family members and friends by mailing birthday cards, championed the cause of the needy and cared about protecting anyone whose civil rights had been violated. The Russells’ home was always a loving, welcoming one.
Erin was preceded in death by her parents and parents-in-law, Roy and Anna Russell.
She is survived by her husband Steve, son Joseph and daughter-in-law Jennifer Russell of Kaufman; grandchildren Mackenzie Russell of Dallas and Haley Russell of Kaufman; her siblings, Kelly (and Axel) Geue of Soest, Germany, Kathleen McWhirter (and Mike Powers) of Austin, and Sean McWhirter (and Jan Montgomery) of Austin, as well as her niece Lindsay Powers (and son Donovan), nephews Nathan Powers (and Jackie Whitis Powers and son Parker), Dylan McWhirter and Ryan McWhirter (and Lillian Kathleen Resnick and their children Willow and Max McWhirter) of Austin.
She is also survived by her loving Stephens and McWhirter cousins and a large number of friends (many of whom she considered family), in Alvarado, College Station, Houston, Stephenville and then Athens.
A memorial service is set for 11 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2020, at the First Methodist Church in Alvarado.
Memorial contributions may be made to Doctors Without Borders or the American Civil Liberties Union, or the charity of one’s choice.