Richard Brevard Russell, Jr., the Georgia Giant, was gone, but he had made an indelible mark on his state and nation. An entire generation of Georgians could not even remember when he did not represent them in Atlanta or Washington. He had been in the Senate for thirty-eight years, which was longer than any other sitting senator and more than half of his entire lifetime. Add to this number his legislative career that began in 1921 and his governorship, and Russell had devoted half a century to public service. He may have been the only individual in American history who had spent more than two-thirds of his life in elective office. He had surely earned the title "dean of the Senate." Russell had worked with, and been an adviser to, six presidents. While Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson came and went and Richard M. Nixon settled into the White House, Russell was at the same place in Room 205 of the Senate Office Building. Many had called him a senator's senator, but he was, as Nixon said, a president's senator as well.
Russell would be remembered for much more than just longevity in office. His large and extended family would remember him as a loving brother or brother-in-law, a concerned uncle or great uncle, and one who held deep family values. The family reunions in Winder where Uncle Dick presided as the patriarch after the death of his parents were treasured memories for the large Russell clan. Older friends recalled his youthful exuberance, his popularity with girls, the hunting trips to South Georgia, and the evenings spent talking politics and swapping stories. Politicians could not forget his phenomenal vote-getting ability as he had beaten the state's best in his campaigns for governor and senator. Local, county, and state officials reflected on the economic impact on the state of the many federal facilities Russell had brought to Georgia. Friends in the Senate would miss his integrity, intelligence,