Loretta Jean (Wolf) Russell

Loretta Jean (Wolf) Russell peacefully passed away on Sunday, July 28, 2019. Services were held at an earlier date.

Native Houstonian Loretta Jean (Wolf) Russell peacefully passed away on Sunday, July 28 at home surrounded by loved ones.

Born May 2, 1931, Loretta was preceded in death by her parents Hugh Leonard and Viola (Kerr) Wolf, and her only sibling Hubert L. Wolf. She attended David G. Burnet Elementary, Edison Junior High and graduated in 1949 from Stephen F. Austin High School. She went on to graduate from Southwest Business School.

On November 20, 1952, she married the love of her life, Allen E. (Gene) Russell and they shared almost 67 years together. She was at her husband's side at home and at work, including the years he held baseball front office positions with the Austin Senators, Alpine Cowboys, Jacksonville Jets and the Colt 45s. Along the way Loretta played a major role in her husband's successful career first in baseball and later in commercial real estate brokerage and investments.

Loretta held positions in the oil & gas business prior to Gene serving in the U.S. Army and after his discharge joined him in front office work in professional baseball.  She resumed her career in the oil & gas business in the early 60’s and later was hired by William L. Hill of the Singer Corporation, one of the early contractors for the NASA Mercury program, as his personal assistant and as a security officer.

This led to many friendships and opportunities while the Mercury and Apollo programs were developing.  One of the highlights was joining in the festivities at Cape Canaveral for the launching of the Apollo 11 moon landing.  While Gene was with the Colt 45s, Loretta co-hosted an event in a special hospitality box for five of the original Mercury astronauts and their wives (Alan/Louise Shepherd, John/Annie Glenn Jr., Gus/Betty Grissom, Scott/Rene Carpenter and Deke/Marge Slayton) during a Colt 45s-Dodgers game.  It was one of the first public events that these Mercury astronauts attended.  The fans at the game were only made aware of their presence when announced by Colt 45s owner Judge Roy Hofheinz in the 7th inning.

Loretta lived a full and happy life in homes adjoining the Cypress Champions Golf Course for more than 50 years.  She enjoyed world travel with Gene over the years. She was an avid sports fan, following football, basketball and baseball at the University of Houston, Astros and Rockets teams. When her eyesight began to decline Loretta continued to ardently follow her favorite teams on big screen televisions at her home.

A devout Christian, known for her kindness, Loretta believed in the power of prayer. She entered Heaven with an open heart full of grace and love, believing in life ever after and will be waiting for her husband so they can continue “On Our Journey.”  Her hallmark was knowledge of the bible, gospel songs and, especially the beautiful prayers she offered for any circumstance.

A longtime friend described Loretta as "The perfect example of a Godly woman. She led her life reflecting the warmth and kindness of Jesus. Her smile never faded, her grace never wavered and her caring spirit lives on in the many lives she touched even during her health struggles -- a truly precious friend to so many -- a genuine lover of people."

She and Gene made a generous donation for a public park in Baytown, where they enjoyed some of their real estate successes.  Loretta was so proud when the Baytown Parks and Recreation Department and City Council named the facility near North Main and Wallisville Road the Gene and Loretta Russell Park.  In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to the Gene and Loretta Russell Park Fund c/o City of Baytown's Parks and Recreation Department 2407 Market Street, Baytown, TX 77520.

The family is especially grateful for the care, compassion and love shown to her by her assistants, Denise Finnegan for the past five years and most recently Misty Burkeen.  Also the family deeply appreciates the efforts of LaDonna Nobbe, Gene's assistant for 13 years.

Services were held at an earlier date.