Milton Russell was born June 17, 1938 and died August 25, 2022. It is easy to highlight the wonderful person that he was. In his childhood years, Milton developed a deep love of nature, an adventuring spirit, a strong work ethic and abundant curiosity. He told stories of the freedom he had as a child to go out into the world alone, even at the very young age, to explore his neighborhood, go to a stream to fish, or run errands for his family. He recounted with pride the responsibility he had to carry buckets of coal to his aunt’s apartment on the third floor of her building at age six.
Milton became a proficient driver early, a skill that served him well when he later became an ambulance driver in the military. While serving in the Guard, he enjoyed meeting new people, having a beer or two with his friends and was introduced to live music. Music has been an integral part of Milton’s life. Never having owned a television, listening to music was one of his favorite pastimes. Milton owned a vast and varied collection that ranged from classical to jazz, Broadway to Beethoven, marching bands to ballads, and which spanned decades. He also had some stories on CD and made it an annual event to listen to Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol while traveling to visit family on Christmas day.
A voracious reader, Milton’s library is full of books spanning world history, art and scientific discoveries. He was a student of the world even though he never traveled far. In his college days, Milton and his sister, Sheila, attempted a long trip to New Orleans in an old Austin-Healy. Milton remembered that trip fondly and recalled the many breakdowns along the way that took them on some interesting detours, exposed them to new foods and cultures and had them staying up nights repairing the car.
Milton was a pharmacist for his entire working career. He owned Seivwrights Pharmacy in Montpelier until it was bought out by Brooks. He then went to work for Montpelier Pharmacy and smiled broadly when the talked about working for his favorite employer, Jocelyn DePaolis. Milton was in love with pharmacy because it connected him deeply with his community and allowed him to serve others. He once shared that his philanthropic nature was guided by the words of the Oath of Maimonides, the oath that pharmacists take, “The eternal providence has appointed me to watch over the life and health of Thy creatures. May the love for my art actuate me at all times; may neither avarice nor miserliness, nor thirst for glory or for a great reputation engage my mind; for the enemies of truth and philanthropy could easily deceive me and make me forgetful of my lofty aim of doing good to Thy children.” Few people knew about his generosity, but those who knew him well, know that he gave to many charitable organizations, especially those that benefit children and animals. Customers will remember Milton for his knowledge, caring and mischief but, of course, Milton may be most remembered for his full, owl-like eyebrows, which he would never trim.
His charity extended to family, especially at Christmas. Milton delighted in shopping for interesting and unusual gifts throughout the year. He would gather up special items – toys for all ages, candies, science experiments, soaps, lotions, exotic treats – and bring box loads to his childhood home each Christmas. All smiles, he would invite everyone to take pick out items to take home. Everyone got something and there was always something left over to give to someone in need. Milton’s nieces and nephews would always wait for “the Milton box” to arrive with anticipation and for Milton to give them the explanation of what the toy would do or why a weather station is handy or where marzipan came from.
Animals held a special place in Milton’s heart. He was visited often by bears, deer, squirrels, birds, and even an opossum at his East Montpelier home. He loved fishing by streams, less because of the fish than to be able to be in nature and see the wild animals who would come to the stream – minks, martens, fishers, herons, kingfishers, and loons. In retirement, Milton spent much of his time feeding his animal friends, even to the smallest mouse that moved into his cupboard because, in his words, “everyone deserves to have a home.” No animals held a stronger place in his heart than his cats. Milton’s heart was tied to the cats that made their home in and around his. Whether feral or tame, Milton made sure that there was always water, kibble and tasty treats for at least four generations. Among his favorites were Spot, Brother, Sister, Daddy, Little Daddy, Mother, Simon, and Boss – and too many others to list here. He knew them all and called them family. He was grateful for the loving care that his sister, Linda, provided to his furry family when he was unable to do so.
Milton was as independent as he was outspoken. He was a firm believer in democratic ideals and held philanthropy as a core value. He was gregarious, generous, mirthful, compassionate and most of all – kind. He loved his family, both human and animal. He took pride in and supported his community in ways that many will never know. He longed for a world that was more peaceful and giving. Milton will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by his family, especially by his sister Linda Shatney and his niece Susan Russell, who spent much time with him over the last few years.
Milton was predeceased by his parents, Hazen and Cornelia Russell and sister, Sheila Russell Teske. He is survived by his sister, Linda Shatney, nephews Troy and Trapper Shatney and their children Travis, Tyler, Kate, Lyla, and Sara Shatney. He is also survived by niece Stephanie Jackson, her son, Eric Jackson and niece Susan Russell, nephew-in-law Joe Peters and their children, Siobhan Shufelt, Caleb Teske, and Dolci Christman.
Those who wish to honor Milton’s life may make a donation in his name to the animal shelter or food bank of your choice.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at www.guibordfh.com.