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Niantic man, former school official in Waterford and Norwich, killed in Vermont car crash

A Niantic man has died in a car crash in the Vermont town of Stockbridge.

Vermont State Police say 69-year-old Philip Russell was driving on Route 107 Tuesday morning when he lost control of his car, crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming box truck.

Russell was taken to the Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, where he was pronounced dead. The other driver was not injured.

Police say it was snowing and sleeting at the time.

For 11 years, Russell was deputy superintendent of school operations in Milford, retiring in 2011. Prior to his stint in Milford, he was chief school business administrator in Norwich, Waterford, Hartford and Clinton; he also had been Guilford's finance director.

In 2009, the Connecticut Association of School Business Officials named Russell co-winner of the Celebrated School Business Official award.

After retirement, Russell was interim finance director for the Town of Waterford in 2013 as they sought to fill the position.

Russell was known as a bit of a daredevil, having climbed some of the world's highest mountains, scaled active volcanoes and even swum with sharks.

His daughter Chelsea, who was born with a rare enzyme deficiency that affected her health, was the inspiration for Russell and his wife Carol to start the Groton-based Chelsea Foundation that gave away free medical equipment to those in need. Russell also gave her one of his kidneys in 1997 that prolonged her life, though she died in 2015 at age 26.

The Chelsea Foundation donated hundreds of hospital beds and thousands of wheelchairs to the local community and elsewhere.

Russell himself made a full recovery after donating his kidney and was considered one of the better local tennis players, playing regularly in the Lyme Shores Tennis & Conditioning Center Sunday league for Sure Shots, a team that has won the league title for five straight years.



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