Gail Joanne Russell

10 July , 19333 February , 2019

Gail Joanne Russell (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.


  • Celebration of Life Sunday, 10 February , 2019

Gail Joanne Russell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Joanne Mantha McConnell

11 February 2019

Dear Mark and family
Sending our deepest sympathy to you and your family on the passing of your beloved mother. She was a woman of kindness and grace and I always enjoyed talking to her. I was glad I got to know her when I worked with your dad during my university summers in the Court House. She is now your guardian Angel watching over you. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

Ann Martens

9 February 2019

“Auntie Gail”, was a central character in all of my childhood memories. We spent every holiday celebration at either the Martens’ or Russell households. As an adult, I came to know her as the kind, caring, non-judgemental person described by so many. Thank you Auntie Gail for being you. Sending compassion and love to my cousins, Jennifer, Mark, Bruce and Jill.

Lillian Hildebrandt

9 February 2019

Gail was indeed a kind and gracious lady and a good friend.
We both worked for Home Health Care Algoma.
She was compassionate and caring.
My sincere condolences to her cherished family.

Joan & Jody Curran

8 February 2019

Gail has been a true friend to both Jody & I throughout our adult lives. She has celebrated with us in times of joy and she commiserated with us in times of sadness. We have kept in close touch even when she lived a day’s journey away. Her children have not just become good friends of of Jody and I but also good friends of our children. Gail has truly been an inspiration to us all.

Charlene Andersoncw

8 February 2019

I have many memories of that cold day in July when we spent the afternoon looking at albums and remembering the past. Gail was a very kind and loving cousin. She will be missed.

Robert & Lynn Jones

7 February 2019

Bruce, Jill, Mark and Jennifer:
Sorry to hear about your mom's passing. She was a fine lady and was very supportive of my music ministry at Central. What type of person was she? When she retired, she hosted a party for all her colleagues! She will be missed. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Lisa Hutchison(Craig)

7 February 2019

I am so sorry for your families loss! Gail or Mrs Russell to me, was such a wonderful lady and always was so kind and caring! My Mom Elaine worked for/with Gail and they were wonderful friends and now are together to have tea and chat! I want you to know that I am with you all in thought and wish you comfort and peace as you remember Gail!

Evelyn Sullivan

6 February 2019

Gail was a wonderful friend and a very special person. She was a kind and gracious lady who was always caring of others. I imagine she was a wonderful nurse. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with her and will especially remember a couple of wonderful birthday lunches she had for myself and other friends. It was a privilege to have known her. My condolences to her family.


Daria Salemka; Chaplain, peopleCare Hilltop Manor

6 February 2019

Sincere condolences from everyone at peopleCare Hilltop Manor on the loss of Gail. I was privileged to share many visits with her - she was a gentle and kind woman. May fond memories give you strength and deep peace during this difficult time.

Dale Wetsch

6 February 2019

Our deepest sympathy to the family, we really enjoyed the last visit when Gail and John &Eunice drove out to see us. Memories are forever but life is very short it seems and that depends on how you live it. With Love Dale & Arlene