Former KHOU reporter John ‘Rucks’ Russell dies of COVID-19 at 55 – fr

Former KHOU reporter John ‘Rucks’ Russell dies of COVID-19 at 55 – fr

John “Rucks” Russell, a former KHOU-11 reporter and government aide, died Wednesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 55 years old.

Russell contracted the virus while caring for his twin brother, Edgar, who also died after contracting COVID, according to Doug Miller, Russell KHOU-11’s former colleague. Russell had been weakened by a previous battle with cancer, which medical experts said put him at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms of the virus, even in remission.

Those who knew Russell said his decision to take care of his brother despite the risk showed the kindness he was widely known for.

“He just seemed like a solid guy, an honest and decent man, in a company that was full of people who weren’t very honest or decent,” Miller said. “His death deeply affected a lot of people because he was known to be a basically decent man.”

Russell was born in Washington, DC, the son of Edgar Russell and LaVerne Millicent (Rucks) Russell, according to an obituary from his late twin brother. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Rider University in New Jersey, where he also studied French.

Russell came to KHOU in 2006 after working as a reporter and presenter for approximately five years at the CBS affiliate station in Raleigh, North Carolina. He remained at KHOU-11 until early 2017, when he left to take on the role of Director of Communications for U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston.

He left the Congressional office in 2018 to become chief of staff to former city councilor Dwight Boykins, before returning to Washington, DC to take up a position of senior media and communications specialist in the Office of Minority Health at the within the US Department of Health and Human Services. .

Boykins said Russell had impressed him during an interview for one of Russell’s TV reports on homelessness. The two are also linked by their mutual interest in sports cars, Boykins recalled. Boykins hired Russell after learning of his interest in returning to Houston from Washington, DC

“It was one of the best decisions I made,” Boykins said.

Despite the public nature of his career, Russell was generally deprived of his colleagues in town, Boykins said.

“My team was giving him a hard time. He never stepped outside of the professionalism space while he was at work, ”Boykins said. “Socially, we were joking with him – ‘Rucks, you’re not at work, man.’”

KHOU reporter Grace White said the newsroom was “shocked and saddened” to learn of Russell’s death. She recalled that Russell passed his source Rolodex to her when he left the station.

“When I came to KHOU 8 years ago, he was one of the veteran journalists I admired,” White said. “I will never forget his kindness.”

Longtime KTRK-13 ​​reporter Deborah Wrigley described Russell as a “refreshing and rare person” in the television industry.

“Not sensational or explosive, but you can still trust what he said and how he said it,” Wrigley wrote on Facebook. “His mind and intellect were sharp and he could communicate with anyone. All this plus an empathetic and kind personality.

When Russell first arrived at KHOU, Miller recalls, the station’s news director told him to advise the new reporter. Miller quickly saw that it wouldn’t be necessary.

“Within a week, I walked up to the boss and told him, this guy doesn’t need my help,” Miller said. “His fastball is as fast as mine. “

At KHOU-11, Russell often featured stories from “community sources” in low-income neighborhoods, Miller said.

“He really stayed in touch with communities that other reporters didn’t stay in touch with,” Miller said. “And that was one of his great strengths.”

According to Miller, Russell adopted his mother’s maiden name, Rucks, as his TV air name.

“So every time his mother saw that beautiful face on TV, she would hear her son honoring her by saying his name,” Miller wrote on Facebook.

Russell is survived by his wife, Judy. Funeral plans were put on hold on Thursday, KHOU-11 reported.

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