Back during my tenure as editor of the old Business to Business Magazine, we launched a major editorial initiative called Atlanta Business Legends. At the same time, we undertook a radical redesign of the entire publication. Along with a new logo and layout, I had to choose who to place on the cover of that significant issue.
I chose Herman Russell Sr., and it was one of the best decisions I ever made as editor.
Other than John Portman and Harold Dawson Sr., I can’t think of a single business leader who put more of an imprint on the Atlanta skyline than Russell. With news of his death, take a moment to imagine the era in which Russell lived, the challenges and prejudices he must have faced, and all that he overcame.
We held a dinner shortly after the issue came out, and I sat at Russell’s table, along with Arthur Blank and his then-wife, Stephanie. Russell told me he never imagined he’d receive any sort of honor or recognition for all that he did.
Russell’s legacy lives on as the company he founded is a partner in the joint venture to build the New Atlanta Stadium.
In our 21st century Atlanta, leaders like Blank, Dawson, Portman and Russell are harder and harder to find. Atlanta is a much poorer place today because of Russell’s passing.