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Jef Chaison Russell III

Jef Chaison Russell III
April 20, 1948 - December 31, 2016

Jef Chaison Russell, III passed away in Beaumont, TX on New Year's Eve, following a heart attack on December 27, 2016.  Jef 3, also known as Russ, Rusty, Heavy Duty, Duty, HD, Dad and Abuelo, was born the 20th of April, 1948 in Beaumont to Billie Sain Russell and Jef Chaison Russell, Jr.  He attended Beaumont public schools and THE UNIVERSITY of Texas where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta and Silver Spurs. In 1971 Jef and Jan Belknap married in Fort Worth. After several career moves, tourism became his calling. Jef was known and respected far and wide in convention and tourism circles having served as director of the Bureaus of Beaumont, Fort Worth, and Eureka Springs, AR. 

Following the death of his second wife, Judy Boaz Russell, he returned to Beaumont in 2010 where he spent many hours volunteering at the Visitor’s Center and was a significant advocate for the city.  He was a seventh generation son of Texas having just completed his autobiography/memoirs entitled DEARWOOD, which will be published later this year and available on

Jef loved “The Beach” and spent countless hours combing it for sea shells, sharks teeth and sea beans, while enjoying the solitude and beauty of the ocean.  One family member or another has owned a home on The Bolivar Peninsula since the 1930’s. Many hours of his youth were spent in South Texas on the Ball Ranch or with his Sain Grandparents in Agua Dulce.  Family weekends were frequently spent with his Russell Grandparents at a cabin named Dearwood, in the piney woods of east Texas.

He enjoyed hunting and fishing with friends, travel around America and really good food.  Jef adored his family and was predeceased by his father, Jef Chaison Russell, Jr.; and his second wife, Judy.  He is survived by his mother, “Cita”, of Beaumont; son, Jef Chaison Russell IV (Cuatro), of Austin, and the rest of his family from Houston:  daughter, Molly Russell Evans (Drew); granddaughter, McGregor Ann Evans; and son, William Sain Russell.  He is also survived by his brother, John Emerson Russell (Lynn); niece, Kelly Russell McWherter (Blake); nephew, Robert Fawcett Russell (Whitney); and four great-nieces and nephews, Kate, John Clayton, Michael, and James, who adored and called him “Uncle Big Jef”.  Jan Belknap Russell Gentry, mother of his three children, and longtime friend, also survives him. Jef was universally loved by so many friends who will dearly miss his gentle demeanor, subtle humor, quick wit and genuine friendship.

A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 6, 2017, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 4090 Delaware, Beaumont, under the direction of Broussard’s, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont.  A light lunch and reception will follow at Broce Hall. Interment will be private at the Columbarium of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Beaumont.

Honorary pallbearers are John Russell, Robert Russell, Drew Evans, Blake McWherter, Ken Nichols, Rob Wilson, Eddie Webster, Brian Babin, Leon Walthall, Tom Peterson, David Embry, David Lord, and Dan Settle.

In lieu of flowers, those desiring may make a donation to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 4090 Delaware Street, Beaumont, TX 77706; The Children’s Fund of Houston; or to a charity of your choice.

From your family and friends, Vaya con Dios!  We will all miss you dearly.                      


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