Daffy Russell, legendary lacrosse coach, dies at 91
By MARY P. FELTER, Community News Editor
Charles Mason “Daffy” Russell Jr., a lifelong resident of Annapolis affectionately known as the father of Anne Arundel County lacrosse, died yesterday at a local seniors home.
Mr. Russell, 91, started his more than 60-year involvement with lacrosse in 1929 by founding the Annapolis High School lacrosse program while a senior. In 1950, he co-founded the St. Mary’s High School lacrosse program with Ed Coughlin. During his 40-year lacrosse and football coaching career, Mr. Russell won more than 200 games and had just two losing seasons.
“Daffy fathered two sons, but he raised thousands of the them,” said Del. Michael Busch, D-Annapolis, and one of Mr. Russell’s football players.
“If you could count wealth in the number of people on whom you’ve had a positive effect, Daffy was a very rich man.”
As a player, Mr. Russell was a standout goalie who competed well into until his 40s.
Mr. Russell received a number of awards during his career, including the Annapolis Touchdown Club award for excellence in coaching and citizenship, the Hero’s Lacrosse award as the Outstanding Maryland High School Coach and the Governor’s Award for Distinguished Coaching and Service.
In the 1980s, he was inducted into the Maryland Athletic Director’s Hall of Fame and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Born Aug. 12, 1910, in Annapolis, he was a multi-sport athlete.
During World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and was aboard the USS Franklin off the coast of Japan in 1945 when the ship suffered major damage in a bombing attack. He earned nine battle stars and a Purple Heart.
After the war he worked at the Engineering Experimental Station and transferred to the Naval Academy where he worked as a civilian. He retired from the Civil Service in 1967.
He then became head lacrosse coach and assistant football coach at St. Mary’s, where he became athletic director and physical education teacher.
He retired in 1980, but continued to coach part-time, retiring in 1988.
He was married in 1934 to Vada Russell who died in 1999. His son, John, died in an automobile accident in 1967.
Mr. Russell was living at Atria at Manresa Assisted Living on the Broadneck Peninsula at the time of his death.
Surviving are one son, Rusty Russell of Harwood; one sister, Virginia Russell of Edgewater; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Charles M. Russell Gym at St. Mary’s High School, 109 Duke of Gloucester St. A Mass of Christian burial will be said at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, with burial to follow in Hillcrest Cemetery. Arrangements are by Taylor Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Annapolis High School Athletic Department and the St. Mary’s High School Athletic Association.——