Russell B. Clanahan, a retired public information specialist and speechwriter for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, died Feb. 17 at The Virginian retirement community in Fairfax County. He was 85.

The cause was congestive heart failure, according to his daughter, Holly A. Selb.

Mr. Clanahan began his government career in Battle Creek, Mich., and served 33 years with FEMA and its predecessor agencies, the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Office of Civil Defense. He was transferred to Washington in 1962.

His work included the writing of articles, publishing of manuals and the drafting of speeches for FEMA directors. He retired in 1992.

Russell Barnard Clanahan was born in Detroit and was a 1949 journalism graduate of the University of Michigan. He served in the Navy during the Korean War.

Early in his career, Mr. Clanahan was a journalist at newspapers in Michigan and Illinois. He and a colleague were fired from one paper, Mr. Clanahan’s family said, after exposing a link between illegal gambling and public officials.

Mr. Clanahan was a longtime resident of Springfield, Va., and was a member of the National Press Club.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Marie Mazuk Clanahan of Fairfax; four children, Jan M. Michek of Fairfax, Diane L. Bowman of Rawley Springs, Va., John R. Clanahan of McGaheysville, Va., and Holly Selb of Harrisonburg, Va.; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes