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Cotton Honors Late Arkansas State Senator Stanley Russ

January 11, 2017

My home state of Arkansas lost one of its great statesmen last week with the passing of former state senator Stanley Russ.

Stanley was a man of the soil. Born in Conway, he grew up on a dairy farm just outside the city. He went through the public-school system and earned a degree in agriculture from the University of Arkansas. And though he spent the bulk of his career in the life-insurance business, he continued to raise cattle over the years. Even when he was an old man, you could find him clearing brush on the road to his house. That's how we thought of him: always keeping busy, always working, and always in touch with the needs of the land and its people.

As a veteran, I have to say one of the things I most admired about Stanley Russ was his military service. He served in the Army for two years, completed Officer Candidate School, and became an instructor of artillery. After being discharged, he served as a company commander in the Arkansas National Guard for several years. In 1995, Stanley was inducted into the U.S. Field Artillery OCS Hall of Fame at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

But his true calling in life was public service. Stanley represented Conway for 26 years in the Arkansas state senate. And more impressive than his lengthy tenure was his unimpeachable integrity. Stanley Russ was universally known as good, sturdy stock. The story is often told that during his first campaign, one of his opponents had some of his poll watchers thrown in jail. Stanley won the race anyway-and went on to pass legislation protecting the rights of all poll watchers. He served in the state senate with distinction, championing quality education for all of Arkansas's students-and eventually rising to the office of president pro tempore.

Stanley Russ was a model for all of us in public service. I got to know Stanley well in my first campaign. He remained a friend and trusted source of advice and support until he passed away. I've heard that he died peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, as his granddaughter sang the hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

He considered himself, in his words, "greatly blessed, highly favored, imperfect, but a forgiven child of the King."

But perhaps the best summing up was given by the man who now holds his seat, State Senator Jason Rapert. As Senator Rapert put it, Stanley Russ was "the kind of man that God made only one time."

And so as I stand here on the Senate floor, I want to say, on behalf of our grateful state, "Stanley Russ-rest in peace."