‘Childhood playground’ transformed into family legacy donor

Charliss giftThe moment Charliss Russ lost her father in January 2013, it crystallized for her the urgency of doing something she had set out to do some time ago.

“I always had in the back of my mind what I would set aside financially and where it was going to go,” Russ said.

Contemplating her own eventual passing, Russ said there were several places she had considered leaving her own estate. Then it occurred to her she might meet the greatest needs by looking no further than her own former backyard.

“UALR was my childhood playground,” said Russ, explaining the home of her youth was located at the corner of 29th and Taylor Streets, near the UALR campus.

Eventually, UALR represented not just a “playground,” but a place for learning. Professors at what was then called Little Rock Junior College taught the nursing students at St. Vincent Infirmary.

“My mother was a nursing student at the St. Vincent Infirmary School of Nursing, Class of 1951,” said Russ.

And Russ herself became a first-generation, non-traditional student who worked her way through an undergraduate and graduate degree while simultaneously working at St. Vincent.

She says she wanted to honor her parents’ memory and also the valuable education she received at UALR. Leaving the entirety of her estate to the university, she has endowed no fewer than six scholarships (two named for her father, two for her mother, and two in her own name).

With an endowment of $15,000 each, the first Russ scholarships will be awarded in fall semester 2015. The newly endowed scholarships are:

  • The Francis Alan “Pete” Russ Greatest Need Endowment for the benefit of Management

  • The Francis Alan “Pete” Russ Management Scholarship

  • Hazel Kriegbaum Russ Greatest Need Endowment for the benefit of Nursing

  • Hazel Kriegbaum Russ Nursing Scholarship

  • Charliss Russ Greatest Need Endowment for the benefit of Marketing and Advertising

  • Charliss Russ Marketing and Advertising Scholarship.

“Before she passed away, I talked it over with mom, and she was so pleased,” said Russ. “I knew I had made the right decision to honor my parents with a variety of scholarships, each reflecting their lives and their passion.”

For more information about how to establish a planned gift at UALR, visit this link.

More about the Russ family

Francis Alan (Pete) Russ

Feb. 4, 1925 – Jan. 7, 2013

Francis Alan (Pete) Russ  dropped out of high school to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  His ship, the USS Goss, was a member of the fleet in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered to General Douglas MacArthur. After completing his military service, Russ earned his GED and began his vocation as a sheet metal worker. On Dec. 8, 1951, he married Hazel Louise Kriegbaum, and in 1954, they purchased a home on the southeast corner of 29th and Taylor streets (when Taylor Street was the western boundary of the Little Rock city limits). There they raised their two children, Charliss Marie Russ and Louis Alan Russ. He retired from Alcoa after 30 years.

Hazel Louise Kriegbaum Russ

March 23, 1931 – Aug. 18, 2013

Hazel Louise Kriegbaum Russ was a 1948 graduate of Bryant High School and a 1951 graduate of St. Vincent Infirmary, where professors from Little Rock Junior College taught the nursing students. During her professional career, she served as an office, staff, and surgical nurse, and she retired in 1989 after 38 years of devoted service to the profession she loved.

Charliss Marie Russ

Dec. 9, 1952 –

Charliss Marie Russ is a 1970 graduate of Little Rock Central High and, as a first-generation college student, attended UALR for a few semesters after high school. While working full-time at St. Vincent Infirmary, she returned to UALR as a part-time student to earn a bachelor of business administration degree in marketing in 1997 and an MBA degree in 2000.  In addition to 25 years with St. Vincent, she has worked for Heifer International and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

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