Phyllis Reavis Russell
Phyllis Reavis Russell
  • July 1, 1925 - May 23, 2017
  • Raleigh, North Carolina

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Phyllis Reavis Russell, 91, passed away on May 23, 2017 at Rex Healthcare. On July 1, 1925 in Statesville, NC, Burton F. and Ola Mae Gilleland Reavis were presented with a three pound baby girl. The doctor refused to put a name on the birth certificate because she was not expected to survive. However, Phyllis Reavis proved them wrong and in fact became a very healthy and vigorous girl and woman who, except for an early thyroid problem, lived most of her life taking only one thyroid pill a day.

During World War II, she married Harvey Whitehurst, helping him to become a successful corporate businessman. Upon his death in 1973, she went to work maintaining her friendships and life style for 15 years. Phyllis was employed at the graduate school at NC State University and later for many years at the Department of Archives of the State of North Carolina. Ever the industrious woman, Phyllis arranged to provide room and board for pages at the North Carolina Legislature. She also was employed as the secretary for the NC Genealogy Society.

She was introduced to Charles R. Russell, Jr. by mutual friends. They met on the dance floor and they immediately fell in love and soon married. Phyllis immediately retired at Charlie's insistence, and she provided him a loving companion to continue travelling the world. They continued their love of dancing.

Phyllis was a long time member of Hayes Barton Baptist Church. She was a charter member of local dance/dinner Club 17. With her husband Harvey, Phyllis enjoyed golf at Wildwood Green and later at McGregor Downs as charter members.

Her love of bridge with her regular group continued late into her life. Her love of dance and travel continued until her 9th decade. She and Charlie travelled the world but very late in life was limited to cruising, as it provided an outlet to dance every night, have fine dining and explore new places.

Phyllis is survived by her husband of 29 years, Charles R. Russell, Jr.; brother Lewis Reavis and wife Lenora of Virginia Beach, VA; step-sons Kenneth Russell and wife Nancy, of Raleigh; Phil Russell and wife Ching of Simpsonville, SC; step-great grandsons Chris, Jonathan and Jeremy Russell; step-great granddaughters Kate and Morgan Russell; step great-grandsons Colin and Blake Russell. Phyllis leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews .In addition to her deceased parents, she is preceded in death by a brother, Ervin Reavis; and sisters Jessica Thomasson and Margaret Roberts.

The family wishes to acknowledge a very special next door neighbor of 38 years, Jay Knott, who became a part of her family. Special thanks also to Dr. Steven Liebowitz, for his excellent care for the entire family for almost three decades.

Family will receive friends on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 from 1-2 pm at Mitchell Funeral Home (7209 Glenwood Avenue), with Funeral Services to begin at 2 pm in the funeral home chapel. Interment will follow at Raleigh Memorial Park.

Memorial Contributions in Phyllis's memory may be made to Hayes Barton Baptist Church or your favorite charity.