Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Alice Russell

July 2, 1949 - October 8, 2018
Hyattsville, MD



Saturday, November 3, 2018
1:00 PM EDT
SGI-USA Northern Virginia Buddhist Center
7400 Fullerton Road #200
Springfield, VA 22153

Life Story / Obituary


Kind, compassionate, and generous, Alice E. Russell was a blessing in the lives of many. She was fun and outgoing, which made her so much fun as a mom. Alice was deeply devoted to her children, and she was filled with unspeakable joy to become a grandmother later in life. Alice had an insatiable thirst for learning new things, and she was also open to what others had to teach her. With her bubbly personality, she made friends wherever she went. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a brilliantly colored mosaic of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.

As the 1940s were drawing to a close, America was making the shift to becoming a nation of peace once again. With the baby boom underway, the new housing market was exploding to accommodate the growing American family. It was as the heat of the summer held Washington, D.C. firmly in its grip that Joseph Frances and Marie Gertrude Butler were eagerly anticipating the birth of their new baby. Their wait was finally over on July 2, 1949, when the baby girl they named Alice Elizabeth drew her first breath. She was the sixth of eight children as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Gloria, Robert, Beatrice, Joseph, Richard, Emily, and Ida. Alice spent much of her time with her sisters who were close to her in age.

In many ways Alice was a young girl of her generation. She was a happy child, and although she was studious and loved reading she also liked to have fun while socializing or taking part in sports. Not only did her love for reading begin while she was growing up, but Alice’s love for music was born at that time as well. She played the clarinet in the band and learned to appreciate all types of music. As a family they took several road trips to see aunts, uncles, and cousins in Virginia. Alice attended local schools including Elliot Junior High School. As a student at Eastern Senior High School, Alice was part of the booster club and was into modern dance and dramatics.

After graduating from high school, Alice was ready to enter the workforce. She took a job as a telephone operator at Bell Telephone. Eventually, Alice found a job at the post office, where she spent the bulk of her career. For several years she worked the late shift, but she later switched to first shift. Alice started out as a machine operator, but she later became a clerk, then a window clerk, and for the last 10 years of her career she was a window clerk supervisor. She truly loved the work, especially engaging with both her coworkers and also the customers.

In 1968, Alice’s life was forever changed when she gave birth to her first child Troy Johnson. Troy was soon followed by his wonderful sister, Tamia. Alice was an amazing mother. She married the father of her children Joseph E Johnson of Washington DC in 1971. Although their union only lasted 12 years they remained friends over her life and were very supportive of their extended families.

She was a fun and outgoing mother who was always on the go. Fridays usually found the family out for pizza and bowling. On Saturdays they went roller-skating, often with the extended family as well. Alice loved these times as she could visit with her siblings, nieces, and nephews. She loved spending time with her kids and often took them to the park. But since she also valued education, Alice made sure that they often learned plenty in the midst of their adventures. They regularly took trips to museums and other educational places. Around the home she wasn't afraid to delegate, and they often had no fun on Saturday until the house was clean. Alice was big on teaching responsibility. Being in the kitchen wasn’t really her strong suit, but macaroni and cheese, and pineapple upside down cake were her specialties. Alice had a comfortable home where her kids often brought their friends over. Active in the lives of her children, she taught Troy to play tennis and led Tamia's Girl Scout troop for a time. When her kids were in school, Alice volunteered in the school library. They also took several family trips to places like amusement parks and the beach. Alice eventually became Grandma Nana to Ezekiel, Erin, Troy and Thai. She regularly spent time with her grandchildren, and with the ones who lived nearby she was often watching them. Alice was very hands on as a grandma, and they had many adventures together.

Throughout her life Alice was one to keep busy. She loved sports, particularly tennis and bowling, and she also enjoyed crafts. Alice's love for reading remained, and she was a music lover who enjoyed all different types of music. Classical was a favorite so she went to the symphony as often as she could. Alice also encouraged a love for music in her kids. Around home she loved working in her flower gardens as she was an avid gardener who could seemingly grow anything. Perhaps it was because she would talk to her plants! Lilies were one of her favorites. She loved Chinese food, and for years her car was filled with junk food since she had a daily commute that was an hour each way. Alice took a trip with friends to Trinidad and Tobago, and while there, she called in to work at the Post Office to announce her retirement. That trip ended up lasting about five months until she returned to attend her retirement lunch! Once she was retired Alice did some additional traveling as well.

For Alice, it was life changing when she discovered Buddhism. As she matured, her involvement became a big part of who she was and it gave her a sense of purpose and peace while also helping her focus and have a clear mind. Alice attended events at the Northern Virginia Buddhist Center a couple of times a week, but after she retired she went nearly each day. She met people at the Buddhist Center, many across generations as she met friends and mentored youth.

In April of 2017, Alice was diagnosed with cancer. Since she had cancer earlier in life, she was very careful with her screenings. True to her independent nature, Alice remained at home until just a few months ago when she needed more help.

With her outgoing and bubbly personality, Alice touched the lives of so many. She was independent throughout her life, and her strength was an inspiration. Alice lived to help others in ways both great and small, even if she was just having a conversation. She had the most amazing smile, her zest for life contagious to all who were near. Alice’s love for her family was easy to see, and it was when surrounded by their love that she was happiest. She will never be forgotten.

Alice E Russell, of Dale City Virginia, passed away October 8, 2018. Alice is survived by her children Troy (Traci) Johnson and Tamia Datcher-Johnson; grandchildren Ezekiel, Erin, Troy and Thai, siblings Beatrice (Ernest) Neely, Joseph Butler, Richard Butler, Emily Butler and Ida Fong, as well as nieces and nephews. Alice was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Gertrude Butler; sister, Gloria Clark; and her brother, Robert Butler. Her memorial service will be held Saturday, November 3, 2018 at 1 PM at SGI-USA Northern Virginia Buddhist Center, 7400 Fullerton Road, in Springfield, VA.