I'd intended to start this week with some tales from the First World War, when I received an e-mail from Goldie Russell announcing a memorial service for her husband, A.G. Russell. The news of Russell's passing was released shortly after his death on October 12th during a routine angioplasty, but I'd apparently missed it. He was 86.
Russell was CEO of Russell's For Men and A.G. Russell Knives. I've plunked down a small fortune over the years at both stores. The leather briefcase next to my desk as I write this was a Russell purchase; as is the horn-handled gaucho knife on the edge of the desk. And a good source for original Bay Rum and other shaving needs. But knives were his specialty.
It is said that Russell made his first knife at the age of nine. He designed the Stinger, the industry standard for boot knives. His other famous innovation was the Arkansas Whetstone. Russell designed several military knives---many of which he donated to members of the Armed Forces. In 1988, Blade Magazine inducted him into its Cutlery Hall of Fame.
In my opinion, one of the best things Russell did was to promote custom and independent knife-makers who rarely had a commercial outlet for their wares. His catalog, The Cutting Edge featured handcrafted and limited-edition knives made by small craftsmen. These craftsmen got opportunities they never would have had otherwise. Bob Dozier, of the Dozier Knife Company, was a protege of Russell's.
A.G. Russell was a devout Christian and a member of the Baptist congregation. He practiced his beliefs by all accounts, and was deeply interested in people and their welfare. I only knew him as a customer of his, but his business practices were always fair and service was excellent.
Russell's companies will all remain open, according to his widow. Anyone interested in attending his memorial ceremony can find details below.