Russell’s freethought started in teens: Bill F. Russell

Name: William “Bill” F. Russell

Where I live: Essex, Conn.

I was born in: New York City, Nov. 5, 1925.

Family: Three children, William Jr., 63, Torrey, 60, and Lori Lynn, 58. My wife of 54 years, Joanne Jackson Russell, a native of Madison, Wis., is deceased.

Education: B.S. in pre-med, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1950; graduate studies (six hours remaining for my M.B.A.) University Of Wisconsin, New York University, Rutgers University, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts, Clark University.

Occupation: Executive, writer.

Military service: U.S. Army Air Corps, 1944-45.

How I got where I am today: I worked my way through college as a ski instructor at Arapahoe Basin, Dillon, Colo. My first job out of college was salesman for a surgical supply company in Denver. I rose to be its president. Later, I was president of Clairol-Europe, living in Paris and London.

I started my own business at age 45 and have been an entrepreneur for the past 40 years. I started and directed Russell Sales and Marketing (sporting goods and marine industries), Peter Storm (sportswear), RAM Manufacturing (sweater company), Russell Yacht Charters, and Bill Russell’s Mountain Tours (still in operation).

Where I’m headed: Writing books.

Person in history I admire and why: Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery and Barack Obama, our first black U.S. president.

A quotation I like: “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” (Attributed to several people, including Peter Drucker.)

These are a few of my favorite things: Hiking and skiing in the Swiss mountains, backpacking in the U.S. and Canada, sailboat racing (owned and raced Etchells and Atlantic Class sloops for many years), traveling and living in Europe.

These are not: Complainers and pessimists; the false promises of religious dogma.

How long I’ve been a freethinker: All of my life since my early teen years. I was led by a wonderful freethinking father and father-in-law, both of them were practicing surgeons: Dr. Frank H. Russell, Worcester, Mass., and Dr. Arnold S. Jackson, Madison, Wis. I enjoyed great support in this philosophy from my loving wife Joanne.

I met her in 1944 when I was in the U.S. Army Air Corps stationed at Truax Field in Madison. My roommate introduced me and it was love at first sight. I came to UW-Madison for summer school in 1947 and took a comparative religion course with her. I was an agnostic, and Joanne was already an atheist.  We spent the entire summer discussing the subject. By the end of the summer, I embraced her atheism and her as the love of my life when we decided to elope and did.

Why I’m a freethinker: The good life is available for all if they only think positively and dispense with the myths, superstitions and false promises imposed by religion.

Best way I promote freethought: Through my writing. I have completed my first book entitled, The Good Life, and I’m seeking a publisher. It goes after the televangelists’ “racket” like the fictional Elmer Gantry.

Freedom From Religion Foundation