Thomas Sheldon Russell was born to Catherine Alice Thomas and Charles Marion Sheldon Russell on July 24, 1931 in Florence, Alabama. Although Tom was an only child, the importance of family was instilled in him from his early childhood and was an intrinsic part of his character throughout his life.
He graduated from Sheffield High School in 1949. After acquiring his Bachelor of Science degree from Florence State University in 1951, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather—he chose dentistry as his future career. Tom worked hard to pay his own way through the University of Alabama’s School of Dentistry, and he graduated in 1955 with his DMD and as president of his class. Following his graduation from the University of Alabama, he began his career as a dentist while also proudly serving his country as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Dental Corps, from 1955-1957 (active duty) and from 1957-1967 (United States Navy Reserve). In 1957, he established his private practice in Jacksonville, Florida, where enjoyed a distinguished career in dentistry for more than 30 years. However, Tom was so much more than just a successful dentist and businessman. He was also a world traveler, a creative artist, and even an accomplished amateur actor with a rich bass singing voice. But most of all, his love for his family was at the heart of everything he did. When he married Perry Jones in 1968, he found the love of his life. Together, they created a new, blended family that began with four children from their previous marriages and later blossomed into a unified family of six: Thomas Sheldon, Jr., Terry Ann, Catherine Clare, Katherine Lee, Charles (Kord) Alexander, and Ashley Perry-Thomas. As the devoted patriarch of his beloved family, Tom was always ready to share his wisdom, his wit, his assistance, and most of all, his unwavering love and support. Throughout his life, the center of his world was his beloved wife Perry of 52 years, their six children, their eight grandchildren (Lee Andrew and Holly Noel Walker, Miranda CW Russell, Clayton Richard and Casey Elizabeth Roberts, Russell Mark and Richard Charles Ashley Van Wagner, and Leandro Murachi Briceno Carsey Russell) and later, their four precious great-grandchildren (Raylee and Anabelle June Walker, and Ashley Camille and Emily Brook Hardie). When Thomas Sheldon Russell passed away Sunday, September 27, 2020, he left a legacy of love for his entire family. His friends and loved ones mourn his loss very deeply, but we take comfort in the knowledge that one day, we will all be reunited with him in heaven.