Atlanta – November 21, 2015 – The Operation HOPE family expresses our deepest sorrow over the passing of Atlanta native son and pioneering real estate developer Herman J. Russell, he was 83.We also want to thank Mr. Russell for all he did for Atlanta and all the lives he has touched.
There are no words for times like these, other than to say that his spirit and legacy LIVES on. It and he lives, through his family. It lives through the Atlanta skyline and it lives through Operation HOPE.
One of our favorite antidotes to share with the youth who go through our HOPE Business In A Box program is how Mr. Russell bought his first home and lot when he was a sophomore in high school. The usual response from the students was a bright smile is they or their mouths drop opened with pure excitement. By sharing this information, Mr. Russell helped these children dream bigger for themselves, their families and communities.
Mr. Russell is our black Bill Gates. Our businessman-civil rights pioneer. Our philanthropist involved with the youth at Georgia State and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
A developer and co-builder of modern Atlanta. The only international city in the South! The place, he helped to make — a city 'too busy to hate.'
Born during the Jim Crow era, Mr. Russell worked and studied hard to go to college. Before receiving his degree, he was already “building Atlanta.” His charismatic leadership and business savvy drew admiration throughout the nation. Mr. Russell became the largest single owner and manager of HUD apartments in Georgia. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the surviving members of the Russell family.
He is loved and will be missed. We will continue to celebrate his life, dreams, ambitions, endurance and legacy. All things Operation HOPE will keep alive.
Written by Natasha Eldridge, Senior Fellow, Office of the Chairman