Gail Pitts Russell

Published 12:04 pm Thursday, June 18, 2020

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Gail Pitts Russell, 83, of Midlothian, Virginia and formerly of Butler Pennsylvania, passed away peacefully on Monday. June 15, 2020 while in covid-19 isolation at Johnston Willis Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.

Born June 14, 1937 in New York City, she was the daughter of the late Thomas and the late Margo Pitts.  In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brother, Linton A. Pitts.

Gail was involved in education for over 50 years and was considered a pioneer in the field of education. If you had a question, she had an answer. She taught in the Butler Area Schools, Farmville, VA Schools, Longwood University, and Manchester High School in Chesterfield County Schools in Virginia.  She began her career as a sixth grade teacher at Center Avenue School in Butler, PA.  When she earned her Master’s degree and additional credits to become a reading specialist, she worked in that area with elementary through high school students for the rest of her career.  She was the founder and director of Butler ACLD, the Association for Children with Learning Disabilities where she was able to help countless students. She was an officer and member for many years in the Butler Soroptimists. For over twenty years of her career, she taught in VA.  With her caring and compassion, she improved the lives of so many students by helping them to read and they loved her!  She was an excellent role model and made all of her colleagues better teachers.  She was recognized as Manchester High School Teacher of the Year in 1996. Gail had many interests and was very active.  Besides teaching, she was the assistant debate and forensics coach, she ran the MHS school store, she sponsored the Manchester High School chapter of GLSEN, and for years she did homebound instruction and private tutoring.   Gail had many friends in the Manchester High School Retired teachers group and belonged to Alpha Delta Kappa.   She enjoyed theater and sang in the Richmond Woman’s Chorus and other choral groups through the years with her strong alto voice.  She traveled with her son, Eric, to Scotland, China, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Alaska, and Hawaii.  The most important thing to remember about Gail Russell is that she was as good a friend as she was a Steeler fan and that’s saying something!  She was loved and will be missed by all who knew her.

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She is survived by her sons Eric Russell of Richmond, VA, Curt Russell of Spartenburg, North Carolina, her sister, Polly Shaw of Portersville, PA, two grandchildren, Curtis and Kayla Russell, her niece, Melanie Shaw Evans, two nephews, Andy and Dave Shaw, plus six grandnieces and grandnephews.  She cherished friendships over the years, especially with Anna Bittner, Judy Dorazio, and Pam Rose.

The family would like to extend gratitude to The Laurels of Willow Creek, Midlothian, VA where she was a resident for several years.  Burial will be at Hillside Cemetery in Scotch Plains, NJ in the family plot. Arrangements by Cremation Society of Virginia. A memorial service will be held in Midlothian, VA in a few weeks. As Gail was an avid reader, it is suggested that a book donation to the Manchester High School Library, or to a library of your choice, would be very appropriate.