Ronald Stanley Russell

Passed away on 7 March , 2019

The Honourable Ron Russell

Ronald Stanley Thornton Russell (aka “Aussie”), age 92, Windsor, Hants County.

Ron died Thursday, 07 March peacefully at the QE 2 Hospital in Halifax. Born in Ngongotaha, New Zealand, Ron was the son of the late Irene and Sidney Russell. He was predeceased by his sister, Jean and brothers Selwyn and Eric. He is survived by his wife, Jo-Marie, and sons Stephen (Woodstock, Ontario) and Randy (married to Christine) Russell, and grandchildren Zachary and Olivia (Fredericton, NB)., and stepbrother Brian Geddes of Brisbane, Australia.

As a young man, Ron served as a pilot with the Royal New Zealand Airforce during the second world war and then with the Royal Australian Airforce. In 1950 he joined the Royal Canadian Airforce as a pilot and served until 1973 when he retired with the rank of Squadron Leader. In 1976, he was appointed as an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel (Wing Commander) with 420 Air Reserve Squadron.

After retirement from the Airforce, he worked as a Duty Manager at Halifax International Airport and entered politics, serving on the Hants Municipal Council. During his time on Council, he was also on the Board of Health for Hants West; the Board at Dykeland Lodge and the West Hants School Board.

In 1978 he was elected to the Nova Scotia legislature as the member for West Hants. He went on to win elections in 1981, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1998, 1999 and 2003, for a total of eight consecutive election wins. He was elected to be Speaker of the House an unprecedented three times; 1978, 1993 and 1998. He was the first minority-party MLA ever elected as Speaker (1998). He was the government house leader for 14 years, and the opposition house leader for 5 years. During his 18 years in Cabinet, he served as; Minister of Labor; Minister of Health; Minister of Transport; and many other portfolios and special assignments, including Deputy President of the Executive Council and Deputy Premier. At the age of 80 and while serving as Deputy Premier, Ron had to retire from politics because of bowel cancer.

After recovering from his illness, Ron remained actively involved with Nova Scotia politics in an informal advisory role, displaying the passion and energy and intelligence that had characterized his many years of dedicated public service.

There will be a Memorial reception for Ron on Thursday, March 14 from 6-8pm with brief words from the family starting at 7, at Cruikshank’s Funeral Home, 2666 Windsor Street, Halifax.


  • Visitation Thursday, 14 March , 2019

Ronald Stanley Russell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mark Pulsifer

16 March 2019

Dear Steve and Randy. So sorry to hear of your loss. Ron will be fondly remembered and missed by many. My father (Garth Pulsifer) counted himself as one of Ron's many friends and together they shared their love of politics. My father had a huge amount of respect for Ron , and was honoured to be part of his many successful campaign committes. I only met Ron a few times, but it was obvious even then to me as a teenager why he was so well respected. I was looking for advice on who to talk to about working for the provincial civil service, and Ron not only sat down with me to discuss my career plans, but also provided names and made contacts on my behalf. I will never forget that small kindness, and the sincerity that Ron extended to me that day. On behalf of my wife and I, I would like to extend our sincere condolences to your family at this time. Mark and Elizabeth Pulsifer

Barbara Beazley

14 March 2019

JoMarie and family,

We have fond memories of Ron Russell. He was an effective politician and a consummate gentleman. He wasn't one to mess around and got things done. He will be missed and remembered always. Please accept our sincere condolences.

~Paul and Barb Beazley

Jon Oulton

14 March 2019

Good Morning,
I just want to pass along my condolences.
But I also wanted to share with you that Ron was indeed a respected and admired person here in West Hants...and as you might imagine, that is no small feat in this part of the world!
It's been said that Ron had a gift for understanding his voters and for understanding legislative and parliamentary procedure.
I'm writing to add and to make sure others know that if it weren't for Ron's incredible insight into the workings of the NS Provincial Bureaucracy, more than one viable business in West Hants would not be operating today. I am forever indebted to Ron for quite literally cutting through 'red tape' nearly 30 years ago and ensuring my business got a fair shake.
He was helpful at other times for myself and my family as well and there are several other good news stories in the region I have heard of over the years regarding Ron.
Politicians today 'take your concerns' to the Bureaucracy but there the story ends.
Ron never gave up and usually got results in very short order! No fuss, no muss. And always Fair.

Again, my sincerest condolences and best wishes,
-Jon and Tammy Oulton.

Candace Isfeld

13 March 2019

Rest in peace Uncle Aussie. Thank you for all the great memories from my childhood. - Candace Isfeld & Family.

Teresa Parent

13 March 2019

Dear Family of Minister Russell,

I was saddened to hear of Minister Russell's passing. I worked with Ron about 16 years ago and have to say he is such a wonderful, sweet, smart person. Always had a smile on his face and a jump in his step. I must say he is what I would call a true gentleman. Kind to everyone. The sweetest memory I have of Ron is when he called me on Christmas Day after my son was born, Dec 21, 2003. I was surprised that he was calling me as I am a secretary who worked down the hall from his office. I never expected to receive such a considered call. He talked about how wonderful it is to have kids and how happy he was for me. This made my day and I will always speak how wonderful he is.

Teresa Parent

Jack&Evelyn MacIsaac

13 March 2019

Dear JoMarie:Evelyn and I were saddened to learn of Ron's recent passing and deeply regret we will not be able to pay our respects personally,as we are away until 20th..however our thoughts are with you and the family and friends who will celebrate a life well lived and which we are honoured to have been part of in a meaningful way!He leaves a lasting legacy of service to his community,province and country of which all of you can be very proud.I will dedicate a bagpipe Tune 'Flowers of the Forrest' to his memory.
In Friendship,
Jack and EvelynMacIsaac


13 March 2019

Ron was appositive and steady influence on the Nova Scotia political landscape.I remember him as a calm and very thoughtful colleague.
Marcia and I send our sympathys to the family
Greg Kerr

Jerry Pye

11 March 2019

To The Family of the Honourable Ron Russell:
It was my honour to serve in the Nova Scotia Legislature with such a distinguished member. I can say with certainty that he served his Constituency and all Nova Scotians well.
“Please accept my deepest sympathy on his passing”
In Faith: Jerry Pye

Mike Doyle

11 March 2019

To the Russell Family,

It was with sadness that I read of Ron’s Passing. Patricia and I extend our most sincere condolences to you in your time of grief.

While Ron and I were political opponents, I was pleased to have known him. He was a gentleman and he cared about the people of Hants West and the Province of Nova Scotia. Even after our hard- fought election, I always remember that when my father died, Ron was the first to reach out and express his sympathy to me.

Ron will go down in Nova Scotia history as a competent and well respected elected representative of the people.

Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

Deepest sympathy,

Mike Doyle and Patricia Hyland

James Smith

11 March 2019

Dear Jo-Marie and family

I was saddened to learn of the death of Ron and want to extend deepest sympathy to you and all the family on his passing. He was a great colleague and friend in the Legislature; sharing his energy and knowledge with all 'across the aisle'. Ron used his many positive attributes in serving and making better his community and province for all.

Kindest personal regards,
Jim Smith, Ex MLA