Donald Stuart Russell

77th Governor of the State of South Carolina 1963 to 1965

Date Born: February 22, 1906

Date Died: February 22, 1998

Place Born: Lafayette Springs, MS

Place Buried: Greenlawn Memorial Gardens, Spartanburg, SC

Residence: Union, SC, Spartanburg, SC, Washington, DC

Occupation: Lawyer, Major in US Army, President of University of South Carolina 1951-57


University of South Carolina, A.B.: 1925, LL.B.: 1928
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI: 1929

Deputy Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion: 1945

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State: 1945-1947

1962 - Donald Stuart Russell was elected governor of SC without opposition, receiving 253,704 votes.

April 22, 1965 – Governor Russell resigned from office to fill the vacancy in the US Senate caused by the death of Olin D. Johnston

U.S. Senate: 1965-1966

U.S. District Judge: 1967-1971

US Circuit Judge: 1971-1998


Donald Stuart Russell was born on February 22, 1906 in Lafayette Springs, MS, the son of Jesse Russell, who died when Donald was only four years old. His mother, Lula Russell, moved to Chester County, SC and opened a boardinghouse. As a youth, Russell helped the family by delivering newspapers.

Russell graduated from high school at the age of 15 and went to the University of South Carolina, where he worked in a gasoline station to pay for his room and board, and graduated in 1925. He earned a law degree at the same university in 1928, then performed graduate work at the University of Michigan in 1929, and began practicing in Union, SC. In 1930, Russell joined the prestigious law practice of Nichols, Wyche and Byrnes of Spartanburg, SC. He had impressed the firm by winning a case in which he was opposed by partner Charles Cecil Wyche. Russell was running the practice alone by 1937, following the death of George Nichols and the appointments of James Francis Byrnes to the U.S. Supreme Court and Wyche to the Federal District Court.

In 1929, Donald Stuart Russell married Virginia Utsey, daughter of Walter S. Utsey and Mary P. (McKenna) Utsey. Ms. Utsey had been a college classmate and campus beauty queen. They had four children.

Donald Stuart Russell was a Democratic U.S. Senator from South Carolina. He served from 1965 to 1966. He also served as Governor of South Carolina, 1963-1965. Russell was a protégé of former Secretary of State James Francis Byrnes and served as Assistant Secretary of State for Administration from 1945 to 1947. From 1952 to 1957 he served as President of the University of South Carolina. He ran for governor in 1958 but lost the Democratic primary to Ernest Frederick "Fritz" Hollings. Four years later he was elected governor of South Carolina.

He resigned as governor in 1965 upon the death of U.S. Senator Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston and was appointed by SC Gov. Robert Evander McNair, to fill the vacancy created by Johnston's death. In the Democratic primary for the special election in 1966 to fill the remainder of Johnston's term, Russell again lost to Ernest Frederick "Fritz" Hollings.

In 1966, after his short U.S. Senate tenure ended, Donald Stuart Russell was appointed U.S. District Judge for the District of SC by President Lyndon B. Johnson to fill the vacancy created by the death of Russell's former law partner, Charles Cecil Wyche. In 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed Russell to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, where he served until his death, on his 92nd birthday, in 1998.

Donald Stuart Russell was buried at the Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Spartanburg, SC.


Donald Stuart Russell, a U.S. Senator from South Carolina; born in Lafayette Springs, Lafayette County, MS on February 22, 1906; moved with his family to Chester, SC, in 1914; attended the public schools; graduated from the University of South Carolina at Columbia in 1925, and from the law school of the same university in 1928; admitted to the SC bar and commenced the practice of law in Union, SC, in 1928; took graduate work in law at the University of Michigan in 1929; moved to Spartanburg, SC, in 1930 and continued law practice until 1942; went to Washington, DC, and worked in the War Department and as assistant to the Director of Economic Stabilization 1942-1943; served in the U.S. Army as a Major in 1944; Deputy Director, Office of War Mobilization and Reconversion, in 1945; Assistant Secretary of State for Administration 1945-1947; resumed law practice in Spartanburg, SC; President of the University of South Carolina 1952-1957; Governor of South Carolina from November of 1962 until his resignation on April 22, 1965; was immediately appointed as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston and served from April 22, 1965, until November 8, 1966; unsuccessful candidate for nomination in 1966 to complete the term; U.S. District Judge for SC until appointed U.S. Circuit Judge for the 4th Judicial Circuit in 1971; resided in Spartanburg, SC until his death on February 22, 1998.

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