William A. Russell

Federal Buildings Manager

William A. Russell, 81, a buildings manager with the General Services Administration who worked for the White House in the 1960s, died of heart disease Sept. 24 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. He had lived in Alexandria since 1956.

Mr. Russell was born in Augusta, Ga., and was orphaned at a young age. He grew up in an orphanage in Ohio, from which he ran away several times. When he was 13, he was an exercise rider at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville before his age was discovered and he was sent back.

At 14, he entered the Army, using an affidavit signed by his stepmother stating he was 18. He served in the Pacific theater during World War II and participated in the battles over the Solomon Islands. He later served two tours of duty in Germany and retired in 1958 as a first lieutenant. He also attended the University of Maryland.

After his military career, Mr. Russell worked as personnel manager for Cook Engineering Co. in Alexandria and as a manager for Goodwill Industries in Washington.

After joining the General Services Administration in 1963, he was assistant buildings manager for the White House, supervising the physical plant of the White House and Executive Office Building from 1963 to 1967. He later served two years as buildings manager for the Justice Department in the early 1970s. Mr. Russell spent the balance of his career as a buildings management officer with the GSA's Public Buildings Service, managing buildings in Federal Triangle, until his retirement in 1979.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Hulda Gregory Russell of Alexandria; and a son, William A. Russell Jr. of Alexandria.