Editor’s Note: In his biography of Russell, Gilbert. Fite, quoted above, stated that the Russell family had existed in North America since before the American Revolution. Russell’s father graduated from the University of Georgia and became the judge of the Superior Court for the Western Judicial Circuit of Georgia.
Following in his father’s legislative footsteps as the family had hoped he would, Richard also went to the University of Georgia and received a degree in law in 1918 that would help shape his future. He also served briefly in the U.S. Navy in the fall of 1918 just before the end of World War One. Although Russell later remarked while serving that he had made "an awful mistake by going into the Navy" due to his distaste of the work involved.