Official Obituary of

Charlene Russell

February 8, 1937 ~ May 4, 2023 (age 86) 86 Years Old

Charlene Russell Life Story

Charlene Russell, 86, of Grand Rapids, MI, passed away on May 4, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of love, faith, and kindness. She was born on February 8, 1937, in Memphis, Tennessee, to her parents, Thelma B. Toney and John Brinson. Charlene's family migrated to Mississippi and later made their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She attended Franklin Elementary and G.R. Central High School and Grand Rapids Junior College (now named Grand Rapids Community College). Throughout her life, Charlene embodied the Christian values of faith, gratitude, and love.

Charlene made her confession of faith at a young age and joined New Hope Baptist Church in the 1950s, where she turned out to be a long-time member. She actively served on the Senior Usher Board, as a children's bible study teacher in the Vacation Bible School, and on numerous other committees. Her devotion to the church and her community was a testament to her unwavering faith and commitment to serving others.

Charlene was united in marriage to the love of her life, Howard Lee Russell, in 1954, and to their union, five children were blessed. They shared an inseparable devotion for nearly 70 years and revered their marital vows of " Til' Death Do Us Part." Charlene was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, who cherished her family above all else. She was especially proud of her 16 grandchildren, whom she loved dearly, and who brought her immense joy and happiness.

Charlene was an accomplished woman, who worked as a supervisor over the customer service representatives with Michigan Bell (now AT&T) for over 30 years. She held a Real Estate license and sold Amway products and Mary Kay cosmetics. She was also an avid bowler, who traveled the country winning tournaments. Her love for the sport drew her to leadership with the local chapter of The National Bowling Association, Incorporated (TNBAI), where she served as its president for over 30 years.

Charlene's passing has left a void in the hearts of those who knew and loved her. She was preceded in death by her son, Howard Sidney Russell; grandson, David DeShawn Matthews; parents, bonus mom, Sedaria Brinson; grandparents, George and Martha Toney; special brother, Earnest Brazil; beloved son, Melvin L. Fox; in-laws, Searea (Delores) Russell, MayBelle (Percy) Browley, Sally (John) Gibbons, and Hattie (Lowell) Patrick.

She is survived by her devoted husband of nearly 70 years, Howard Lee Russell; loving children, John Derrick (Carol) Russell, Diana (Everett) Vinson, Cheri Lynn Fox, David George Russell, and John Lindsey; grandchildren, Jasmine, Imani, Kyrie, Yolanda, Kyle, Donanishia, Carmie, Marcus, Tiana, Bradley, Garrettt, London, and   Davis, Jr.; 16 great-grandchildren; especially loved relatives: nieces, Karen Browley-Nabors, Michelle James, Marcie Brazil, Toni Brazil, Chelsey Lee, Vicky Russell, and Gail Russell; nephews, Allen Russell and Rickey Browley; cousins, Tinnie Davis, Bill (Diane) Adams, and John Lee; friends, Oletha Knighton, Anna Marie Knight, Philly Matthews; TNBAI friends, the Baldwin House  neighbors, a host of other family members, and close friends.

Charlene's life was a testament to her faith, her love for her family, and her commitment to serving others. She will be deeply missed, but her memory will live on in the hearts of those who knew and love her. Charlene will always be remembered as a true original, with a heart as big as the bowling alley itself. She bowled us over with her kindness, humor, and unwavering spirit. Rest in peace, Charlene, and keep rolling those strikes up in heaven!

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May 12, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
New Hope Baptist Church
130 Delaware Street SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Celebration of Life
May 12, 2023

11:00 AM
New Hope Baptist Church
130 Delaware Street SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49507


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