by AndrewMc | 12/06/2009 08:56:00 AM
It is my sad duty to report the passing of one of our longtime contributors, John Russell, aka Bastoche. His longtime struggle with cancer ended Saturday morning after visits from close colleagues, friends, and students.

He will be missed. His writings here included two long-time series--"Cowboy Nation" and "History and the Kagans: Paradise and Power."

As many know, it takes a great deal of commitment in order to post regularly to a blog. It takes even more to post a regular series. To publish a pair of them--the rough equivalent of a couple of journal articles in length--speaks to John's commitment to, and passion for, advocating for progressive causes and subjects.

Inasmuch as John was a committed progressive, he was also an extremely gifted writer. Nowhere was this on greater display than in his essay "Our Window of Opportunity," in which a flowing narrative served as the backdrop for a sharp, insightful examination of the meaning of the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

John also contributed to Daily Kos. He will be missed.

The announcement read as follows:

Dr. John Russell, Senior Professor in the English/Fine Arts/Modern Languages Department, passed away early this morning, after a long illness.

Friends may call at Dooley's Funeral Home, 218 North Avenue, W., Cranford, on Monday, December 7 from 2:00 - 4:00 pm, and from 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, December 8 at 10:00 am, also at Dooley's, followed by internment at Fairview Cemetery, Westfield.

The family has asked that donations be made, in lieu of flowers, to the Cancer Research Institute, One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, Suite 1802, New York, NY 10006, in the name of John Joseph Russell.

A valued and long serving member of the ENG/FIA/ML Dept., he will be missed by his colleagues, students and friends.

Prof. Robert Comeau
Coordinator of Credit English

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Blogger Ahistoricality on 12/06/2009 10:50 AM:

It's an odd thing: to learn who someone is just at the point of losing them. I loved Cowboy Nation: it crystallized things in a very substantial way. I'm very sorry to hear that Bastoche is gone, and all my sympathies to John's family.


Blogger AndrewMc on 12/06/2009 11:00 AM:

Agreed. It makes his death all that much sadder to know that his authorship of those incredible writings will only be recognized after he can no longer be part of the recognition.


Blogger Jeremy Young on 12/06/2009 1:41 PM:

I've known this was coming for a while, but it still came as a shock. I met John at the 2008 ProgressiveHistorians lunch at the AHA in Washington, DC, and we've corresponded semi-regularly since then; I considered him a friend.

I'm working on a website that will collect all of John's online writings in one permanent, easy-to-access location; I'll post about it here when it's done, in a few days.


Blogger Ralph Brauer on 12/09/2009 9:47 AM:

I, too, admired John's work. His writing and research set high standards for us all. I marveled at how he could regularly do this on a blog and still keep up with his faculty position. Now, to know he was fighting cancer as well makes his achievements even more singular.

Condolences to family and friends.


Blogger Liza on 12/12/2009 8:03 AM:

Dr. Russell was not only a remarkable professor but an amazing man. Not one day was he not completely enthralled in having the opportunity to share with the student body his enthusiasm and vast knowledge. From giving one of the most extraordinary readings of the Raven, to the detailed and thoughtful conversations we shared in and out of class, he is truly a brilliant mind that will be greatly missed.