RUSSELL, Gail Joanne (Martens)


Passed away on Sunday February 3, 2019 at Hilltop Manor, Cambridge, Ontario surrounded by love, kindness, and life.

Gail was born in Avonlea, Saskatchewan on July 10, 1933, daughter of Carl (d. 1986) and Madra (nee Hall) (d. 1998).

Gail and her family left Saskatchewan during a time of drought and economic hardship in the Prairies to move to Rydal Bank, Ontario in 1937 where Carl continued to farm and Madra taught school. Gail and her brother, John, grew up in Rydal Bank, helping on the family farm in that beautiful part of Northern Ontario.

Gail attended high school in Bruce Mines and Sault Ste. Marie, followed by training at the Plummer Hospital Nursing School, becoming a Registered Nurse in 1954. She then completed a Diploma in Public Health at the University of Western Ontario in 1956. She had a long, varied career in nursing, retiring as a public health administrator with Home Health Care – Algoma in 1996.

Gail married S. Lawrence (Larry) Russell in 1957 in Sault Ste. Marie. They had an active life together; raised four children, enjoyed tent trailer trips across Canada in the early years, Caribbean holidays with friends and European vacations. Gail and Larry had many good friends who enjoyed lively social occasions.  Gail was predeceased by Larry in March, 1993.

Gail is survived by her children, Jennifer Russell-Smyth (David Smyth), Mark Russell (Breymann Cameron), Bruce Russell (Nehal El-Hadi) and Jill Russell; by her precious grandchildren, Rachael and James Smyth, Celine and Sally Russell, Remi Ajao-Russell, Kenza and Tijani Russell, and Taylor, Kealey and Kaleb Russell.

She is also survived by her dear brother and sister-in-law, John and Eunice Martens. She leaves several well-loved nieces and nephews and their families and many cousins.

In 2002, Gail moved to Cambridge, Ontario. She continued to maintain strong friendships with Sault Ste. Marie friends during her time in Cambridge, especially with her treasured Homecare nursing friends who continued to gather for annual weekend reunions. During her time of good health in Cambridge, she volunteered for several organizations including the Alzheimer Society, the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank, the Apple Corps of Wesley United Church and The Bridges. She was a former “poster girl” for healthy seniors at the Chaplin Family YMCA.

Gail was a graceful, kind, and curious woman who always had time for her family and friends, true to her roots as a Saskatchewan farm girl. She loved life and struggled to remain as independent as possible for as long as she could. The family extends sincere gratitude to the staff of Hilltop Manor and to Queen’s Square Retirement Residence in Cambridge for the extreme kindness, respect and compassion that was shown to Gail and her family during her times living in these homes.

At Gail’s request, cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, February 10, 2019 from 1:30 – 4 p.m. at the Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory, 2500 Kossuth Road, Cambridge, ON.

An interment reception will be held in Sault Ste. Marie at a later date.

Donations in memory of Gail may be made to a charity of personal choice or to OXFAM.

Arrangements have been entrusted to COUTTS FUNERAL HOME & CREMATION CENTRE, Cambridge, Ontario (519)621-1650. Fond memories and condolences may be shared at


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