Russell Joyner: In Memoriam

By Wanderer, Robert | ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

Russell Joyner: In Memoriam


Wanderer, Robert, ETC.: A Review of General Semantics


Russell Joyner, who had retired as executive director after nearly 30 years with the International Society for General Semantics, including three years as editor of ETC., died on April 12, 1996 at age 71.

His life was marked by great contrasts: He changed from an indifferent high school student not interested in books to an omnivorous reader and magazine editor. He went from a rough/tough marine rifleman to a gentle and helpful semanticist. He came from a family of traditional Southern Baptists and became a freethinker.

He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and left high school at 17 to join the Marines. Russ fought at Guadalcanal and Okinawa in World War II and later in the Inchon landing during the Korean War. In 1952 he married Charlotte Knox, who had a collection of books; Russ became fascinated with reading and thus began his abiding love of language.

In 1957, in North Carolina awaiting discharge from the Marines, he came across S. I. Hayakawa's Language in Thought and Action, and was so impressed that he immediately hitched a ride on a military plane headed for San Francisco in order to meet and talk with the author. Hayakawa urged him to move to San Francisco, and arranged for him to enroll at San Francisco State College, where he worked as an assistant in Hayakawa's classes. …

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