GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Coast said goodbye Wednesday to a legend in the judicial world.
Funeral services were held for federal judge Dan Russell Jr. in Gulfport. Judge Russell, who passed away over the weekend, spent 98 years on this earth. If he were here today, he would be the first to say they were 98 wonderful years.
At First United Methodist Church in Gulfport, just down the street from the federal building named after the judge, family, friends and colleagues gathered to remember a great man.
Attorney Roger Wilder, who gave the eulogy, reflected on the man he knew as a great friend.
"Judge Russell lived a full life," Wilder said. "This is a much better place and we are much better people for having known him. For all of this, he will surely be remembered."
Judge Russell spent 42 years on the federal bench. He served just as he lived his life, with honor, courage and dignity. He tried more than 50 desegregation cases during the difficult and dangerous civil rights era of the 1960's.
His long time friend and colleague, federal judge Henry Wingate Jr., was also there to eulogize the judge.
Wingate, one of the few black federal judges in the nation, said of Judge Russell, "It was an opportunity to bring persons of different races together. To have us understand each other and to recognize that we all breathe, that we all hope, that we all dream. That we all fear and that we all love, and that we all cry. Judge Russell was at the forefront of that."
Judge Russell was also a man of deep faith, who deeply loved God, his family and the law. He also served his country during World War II.
Most importantly, Dan Russell was the personification of a true southern gentleman.
Shortly after mourners left the church, the funeral procession went by the federal courthouse named after the judge. Those he had worked with through the years, stood by to honor their friend, in one last farewell.
It can truly be said about Dan Russell, that the world is a better place, thanks in no small part to his contributions.