Laura Lee Russell, 86, passed away on December 11, 2021. She was born on September 24, 1935, in San Augustine, Texas, to parents Pink Elton Perry and Nora Josephine Graves Perry.
Laura grew up in the country, on a red dirt farm in the backwoods of San Augustine. Her two-room childhood home was built by her father. Eventually the family moved to Denning and then to Redland. Their house was home to a family of six children; Laura was the oldest daughter. Her siblings say that when the oldest brother Max left for college, she ruled the house with an iron fist and worked hard to help her mom in every way possible, serving as the second mother to her younger siblings. They walked to school every day as a family. She said once that she was about 10 years old before she ever went into a store. Life was hard, but their love for God and each other got them through. Her strong faith began as a child when she saw God provide for them time after time. When a cow was once sold to her mother for $100 (half its value because it wouldn’t breed), that cow indeed bred, having a calf that grew up to provide all the milk and butter the family needed, the result of her mother’s prayers.
She was very strong. It’s said that she could pick as much cotton in the field as any man. She was also athletic, lettering in basketball and volleyball at Redland High School.
After graduation, she went off to a college in Waxahachie, known at that time as Southwestern Bible College. She was the catalyst of a spiritual awakening on campus. The student body was in a season of prayer and fasting. During that time, God told her to go to a specific room, touch the feet of the person lying in the bed, and pray that she would be healed. She didn’t know who she was praying for, but that student was miraculously healed of a serious illness.
She met her first love on campus: Robert Boyd. They were married two years later in 1955 and began their family in 1957 (Laurel, Robert Jr. [Robbie], Brenda, and Thomas [Tim]; adding Lane in 1986, the caboose of the family).
She began preaching the Gospel in high school when she was 17 years old. She continued preaching throughout her lifetime, praying for the sick, and singing the old-time Gospels with her children. One of her favorite pastimes was attending Gospel jubilee singings.
She was two semesters short of a nursing degree when the birth of her oldest daughter Laurel took her back home full time to care for her. She went on to wear a number of career hats - successful at whatever she put her hand to from school administrator/principal, encyclopedia sales, pastoring, retail deli cook, mobile home park manager, to name a few.
She married Bob Russell in the late 70s, and they soon started a church in Athens, near their home in Eustace, and she continued reaching those in her community with the love of Jesus through outreach - feeding and clothing dozens of children.
She experienced miracle after miracle throughout her lifetime, beginning when she was healed of polio as a child, and as an adult, she survived four kinds of cancer, rheumatic fever, and most recently Covid-19. Over the years, she was told many times that she would not live. She died twice on the operating table in the early 2000s. The doctor told her in recovery that she was a fighter to come back from death. What 86-year-old survives Covid and the ventilator and lives to tell of it? All these miracles will stand the test of time as proof that God had a lifetime of work for her to do, and she was always willing and quick to answer His call.
Laura loved everyone – her friends, her brothers and sisters, and especially her own family. She was always wanting to know that everyone was okay; she was truly concerned and cared about everyone. She was a prayer warrior, and if you knew her, she prayed for you, and you know she did.
She was a godly woman who understood well what was said of Enoch: He walked with God. She was an example of Jesus with skin on. She was willing to lose it all if doing so meant that one lost soul might come to know her Jesus. She talked to Jesus. She loved Jesus. She trusted Jesus. She knew where she was going and wanted every member of her family to make it to heaven too.
When you remember Laura Lee Perry Boyd Russell, daughter, wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great grandmother, great- great grandmother, aunt, and friend, remember this:
She loved her God. She loved her family.
She loved to garden, can, and cook. (She was fabulous in the kitchen and loved to cook for whoever would put their feet under her table.)
She loved music. She loved to sing (belting it out like Vestal Goodman).
She loved you. She loved everyone.
She would have the biggest smile on her face if she were here today. She would be so happy to see all of you! And if you were to ask her what the most important thing she would say to you would be, it would be this:
“Do you know Jesus? I beg you to ask Him into your heart today. He’s seen me through all the trials of my life and He’ll do the same for you. Don’t wait. Ask him now. If you do, know this – I’ll be waiting for you in heaven, and I’ll meet you just inside the Eastern gate!”
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants”. Psalm 115:16
Laura is survived by children Laurel Kay Hoff, Brenda Darlene Glisson, and Thomas Lane Boyd; a multitude of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren; siblings Willie Max Perry, Edna Earl Pitts and husband Elmer, and Jessie James Perry and wife Dee.
Laura is preceded in death by her husband Bobby Russell; sons Thomas Lane Russell and Robert Lee Boyd; siblings Hellon Thorpe Perry and Hardy Ross Perry.