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.