Russell D. Hilton

Russell D. Hilton, a Lawrence resident for 25 years, passed away peacefully following a yearlong struggle against cancer. He was born in Chanute, Kansas, on July 15, 1943, to Dean and Virginia Hilton who preceded him in death. He leaves behind his wife of 54 years, Jackie, his daughter Jill LaPoint (Mark), and grandchildren Caitlin Todd (Evan), Sophia, and Dominic; his son Travis (Chelsea), and grandchildren Josephine, Jack, Zoe, and Juniper. He is also survived by his sister Patricia Friederich of Butler, Missouri, and her children.

Russell graduated from Chanute High School in 1961 and completed his education at Pittsburg State University majoring in business and marketing. He married his high school sweetheart, Jackie Churchill, in 1965, and they settled in Chanute, Kansas, where he joined the family pumping unit manufacturing business, Churchill Incorporated. He worked 25 years at Churchill Inc. eventually attaining the position of President and CEO of the company. Russell held his coworkers in high esteem and kept in touch with many of them throughout his life. He left the business in 1989 to complete treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In 1992 Russell and Jackie built Carrington Retirement Community in Pittsburg, Kansas, which included an assisted living and several independent cottages. After selling Carrington, they moved to Lawrence in 1995 to be closer to family. Russell was active in both the Chanute and Lawrence communities, serving on the Planning and Zoning Board, the Library Board, and President of the Chamber of Commerce in Chanute. In Lawrence, he was a member of the board of directors for the now titled Great American Bank. He enjoyed creating various pieces of jewelry to donate to fundraisers for Douglas County CASA and other local nonprofits. Russell was a guest speaker for the KU School of Business, a member of the Kansas National Guard, and a member of the Kansas Cavalry.

In 2001, the couple purchased a second home in Fountain Hills, Arizona where they spent several months of the year. He enjoyed his volunteer work there as well, including assisting with the local American Legion golf tournament as well as donating pieces of his art to nonprofits.

Russell always had an insatiable curiosity about the world and the people in it and enjoyed researching and immersing himself in a wide variety of subjects, from Native American culture to Quantrill’s raid. He spoke at numerous clubs and organizations about his travels, historical research, and hobbies. His hobbies included photography, hunting, creating Native American art and jewelry, traveling. reading, and especially spending time with family.

The qualities he was known for publicly were the same as those that his family saw in him privately: honesty, strength of character, respect for every person, and overwhelming kindness. His family will always remember him as a wise counselor, a patient listener, and a loving and willing helper for whatever was needed. He especially loved helping and being with the ones he loved. To his family, he simply was the best person they have ever known.

A Celebration of His Life will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Russell and Jackie Hilton Charitable Fund in care of the Douglas County Community Foundation, 900 Massachusetts Street, Suite 406, Lawrence, KS 66044 or may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

18 Condolences

  1. Jim LaPoint on April 7, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Jackie and Hilton Family. I am so sorry to hear of Russell’s passing. I have a good idea of what you are going through. My prayers and condolence are with you all.

  2. Casey Casebolt on April 8, 2020 at 9:11 am

    Casey Casebolt

    Oh, how my heart aches to learn of the loss of my good friend and fellow Chanute High School classmate from 1961. I learned of Russ’ illness just last week and have, unfortunately, been anticipating this sad news since that time. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his lifelong compainion Jackie, also a 61 classmate, and other members of the family. We can all feel comforted knowing Russ is no longer in pain and suffering but instead rests in the arms of his Lord Jesues. “Remember the good times, they help to heal the sorrows.”

  3. Virginia Hazen Torrence on April 8, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    The world lost a kind, classy, smart man, way too soon. I want Jackie and family to know this loss is felt by many old friends. My God hold you all in his loving arms.

  4. cristy sullivan on April 8, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Jill and Family,
    We are so sorry to hear about your Dad and Grandfather. You are in The Sullivan’s hearts and prayers. May he rest in peace!

  5. Denny & Janet Maher on April 9, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Even though I knew this day was coming, I am still saddened to learn of the passing of the best boss I ever worked for, and a good friend. Russ taught me so much about how to treat people through my years at Churchill. The many times we sat together prior to a layoff, as we went over the people who were to be furloughed, I came to understand that these were real people to Russ. They weren’t just names on a list. They had families, and mortgages, and car payments. It was as sad and heartbreaking for Russ as well as it was for me. He was a people person. This was always evident by the way he would walk out into the shop, not to snoop or spy, but to visit with the men and women on the shop floor. He was showing them how much he loved and appreciated the work each of them did to make the company a success. My heartfelt condolences to Jackie as well as Jill and Travis and their families. The world has lost a great man.

  6. Bernard Dick on April 9, 2020 at 12:15 pm

    So sorry, thoughts and prayers for the family. Worked many good year with Russ.

  7. Doug Hawley on April 9, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Such sad news. Russ was such a wonderful mentor for me in many great years working under his direction. Such a compassionate a and patient leader. Russ took a big chance on me as a young and inexperienced man and it changed my life forever. He taught me how to put value in people and that was the backbone of my entire career.
    My sincere condolences to Jackie and all of his family.
    Doug Hawley

  8. Sandi Lopeman on April 10, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    I’m just so sorry to hear this. To Jackie, Jill and Travis, my heartfelt condolences. You were so blessed to live your lives with this wonderful, intelligent, and caring man. I admired him so much.
    Sandi Lopeman

  9. Kerry L Briggs on April 10, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    Dear Jackie, and family, we were so sorry to learn of Russell’s passing. Our hearts
    and prayers are with you as you try to endure this great loss. Russell was a very
    special man as you are too Jackie. We know this will be very hard for you. May
    the Lord comfort you as only He can. And may He bless you with a great assurance
    of His ever-abiding Presence and Peace. Love from Kerry (Churchill) Briggs and

  10. Lynn Bonney on April 11, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Such sad news. As a student at Chanute High, I admired Russell’s patience and determination, qualities that friends are attesting to. His intelligence and thoroughness were a part of his character, but it was his unfailing kindness that I remember most. To Jackie and his family, you are in my heart.

    Lynn Bonney

  11. Bob Duran on April 14, 2020 at 10:11 am

    I am saddened to hear of Russell’s passing. I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Russ and many of the Churchill team in the early eighties and I admired him a lot. Prayers and condolences to the family.

    Bob Duran
    Houston, Texas

  12. Joe Woods on April 14, 2020 at 11:21 am

    This is such sad news, Jackie. I’m going to miss my friend, Russ. I too so enjoyed the times with Russ & Co. in Chanute at Churchill and our many phone visits long since. Working with Russ during the 70s and 80s was fun and honorable even during the often difficult times in the oil and gas industry. He always made me feel that I was working with him; never for him. What a great friend. The words left here by so many capture him well. He was a people person for sure. Our prayers are with you, Travis, Jill and all the family as you grieve and say goodbye to this special man. Heaven will be a long hello.

    Joe and Cathy Woods
    Houston, Texas

  13. Susan Harrison, CSL on April 14, 2020 at 6:58 pm

    Dear Mrs Hilton, my heart is so sad to hear Russ passed away. He and I had the best visits when I would see him. We often talked about our love of photography. He always treated me as though I was very important and he was always interested in my life. He was very soft spoken and so laid back and he had nothing but good things to say. He was such a good friend, such a great person and I am going to miss him so much. I wish you and your family peace and comfort during this sad time.

  14. Davor Katic on April 15, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Dear Jacki;
    sorry to hear about Russ. we were very good friends and international travailing companions.
    Our prayers are with you and your family. We wish you peace during this sad times.
    Zora and Davor Katic

  15. Linda Cochran Higgins on April 15, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    Jackie and family condolences in the loss of a loving husband. Prayers for you and your family.
    May God comfort you.
    Linda Cochran Higgins

  16. Cliff Sperry on April 16, 2020 at 10:57 am

    I am so sorry to hear this news. I always admired Russell, he was a true gentleman, always friendly and kind.
    Cliff Sperry
    CHS Class of 1962

  17. David Greene on April 17, 2020 at 9:38 am

    I am so sorry for your lost. There are no words to describe the feeling.
    I was always impressed when talking with him. I will always remember his laugh. We talked about old times growing up as kids and he would have that big smile on his face.

  18. Teresa (Terry) Ortiz Estrella on April 26, 2020 at 11:46 pm

    So sorry to hear about the passing of your husband. My sincere condolences to you and your family. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May all the wonderful memories of your time together help you through this difficult time.

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