Give to 'Berg: Office of Development & Alumni Relations




Contact: Deb Kipp, Associate Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations, at 484-664-3223 or

“Charlie loved both teaching and research,” says Winnie Russell, Lab Manager for Muhlenberg’s Chemistry Department of her husband Dr. Charles Russell, Associate Professor of Chemistry, who passed away unexpectedly on January 26, 2012.  “To ask which one he loved more would be like asking someone which of their children he or she loved more.  He loved lab work, but he was a wonderful teacher as well – animated, funny and devoted to his students.” 

Dr. Russell began teaching at Muhlenberg College in the fall of 1988 and found his home in Allentown.  He was an active member of the American Chemical Society and received several summer faculty research grants that allowed him to continue working with students during the summer. His recent research interest was in the Heck Reaction and organometallic chemistry. Other long-term interests included p-allyl palladium chemistry and the development of enanitoselective alkylation reactions.  At the time of his death, Dr. Russell was working as a contributing co-author of Comprehensive Organic Transformations for Dr. R. C. Larock.

“Charlie was very special,” says Winnie.  “There are many outstanding professors at Muhlenberg, and he was definitely one of them.  Quite frequently he would be in his office until midnight because students were studying outside his door and he wanted to be there if they needed him.  He was always there to help, and they knew this and appreciated it.”

A 1978 graduate of Wesleyan University, Dr. Russell received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Colorado State University in 1983. After graduation he moved to France where he worked as a research assistant at the University de Paris Sud in Orsay, followed closely by post-doctoral work in Paris at the University de Paris VI. Returning to the states in 1984, he continued with post-doctoral work at Iowa State University before teaching two years at Kansas State University.

Having lost his father early in life, Dr. Russell was raised by his mother, herself a teacher, to love learning, books and travel. His interests continued to expand as he became an avid cyclist, music lover, model train enthusiast and accomplished cook. He frequently rode in the Bike MS 150 events, most recently completing both the PA Dutch and City to Shore rides in the summer of 2010. “Charlie would ride about 50 miles every weekend,” says Winnie. “He loved cycling and living in the Lehigh Valley where cycling is an important part of community life.”  He owned 31 bikes, many of which he built himself and maintained in his basement shop.  He did volunteer work with Community Bike Works for 15 years, helping out with their Earn a Bike classes in the fall and spring. Since Dr. Russell’s death, students in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Clubs raised money for a bike rack in his memory which was installed near the front of Trumbower.   

Winnie says that Dr. Russell treasured his family, his friends, his students, his parrot, Tino.  He loved everything about his life.  “Charlie got many cards from students telling him that he had changed their lives,” she says.  “He was a sweetheart, the kind of person you feel proud to know.”

Contributions in Dr. Russell’s memory may be made to the Muhlenberg College Chemistry Department to support the REBCS endowment fund for undergraduate summer research.  You can make an online gift at, or write a check to Muhlenberg College, (please note “REBCS for Charlie” in the memo section). For more information, call Deb Kipp, Associate Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations at 484-664-3223.

Bike Rack Dedication



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