Russell Hinson left this world behind in the early morning hours of March 12, 2016. He will always have a place in our hearts.
I first met Russell in the early 2000’s, when we hired him as a trainer at TetraData. Over the next few years he traveled all over the U.S., teaching school administrators how to use our analytics products to answer important questions. With “No Child Left Behind” having been signed into law, data about school performance and outcomes was a huge area of focus in education. Our customers loved working with Russell as he was always thoughtful and eager to help them find answers.
In 2011, at NCover, we needed someone to keep our documentation up to date and to help customers use the product. We were delighted that Russell was available and asked him to join the team. When he started, one of our team members bought him an army helmet that he would jokingly wear while answering customer requests. Although he hardly needed it. As our customers know, Russell was always thoughtful and kind in his responses and loved to help people. We received many compliments about Russell. In fact, our company has built a reputation for great support, largely because of the rapport that Russell established with our customers.
In recent years, Russell began to struggle with an ailment that caused him to lose his mobility. He began to have trouble walking, and started using a cane. His doctors told him he would need a wheelchair, but he stubbornly resisted. Russell knew that once he started using a wheelchair, he’d never get out of it. So he fought it all the way to the end.
Russell was constantly in a great deal of pain, but you’d never know it by reading his messages or talking with him. He worked from home much of the time, but he was in the office as often as he was able. While working, we’d see him grimace in pain as a spasm came over. Sometimes he’d stop and painfully massage a muscle or adjust his position, but his attitude was always positive and he never lost his trademark sarcastic humor.
Russell had an amazing sense of humor. You could always count on his sarcastic banter in our company Slack channels and his optimism held out until the end. During his final hospital stay as doctors and family members surrounded him sensing that the end was near, he said, “I still feel like I’m going to get better, but I don’t get that sense of optimism from everyone else in this room.” That’s the way I want to remember him, clear-headed while tenaciously optimistic.
Russell was a humble guy. Smart and witty, but content to stay out of the limelight. I’ll never forget the day I found out that Russell had written a book. Edward & Amelia: The Vampire King. He didn’t even talk about it. I found out from someone else. He wrote that story for his beloved children, and if you go to his Amazon author page, you can get a sense of his spirit. He loved his family very much and he glowed when he talked about them.
Family and the written word meant a lot to Russell, and Russell meant a lot to us.