Giles Russell was the kind of citizen – active, engaged, sure-footed in the projects he undertook – that any community would welcome and cherish.
“Giles was a very hardworking, very caring – I can’t think of anyone who cared more for the village than Giles; and a lot of people care about the village,” said Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk.
To Cooperstown’s gain, he and wife Jane chose “America’s Most Perfect Village” as their new home in 1989 as he prepared for his retirement in 1991 from an engineering career at IBM. They precisely duplicated a traditional saltbox (with all the modern amenities) in the Cooper Park neighborhood.
Soon, he was on the Village Board, then served as village administrator. He was a long-time member of the Library Board, determined firm up the finances of the often-strapped institution into a district library, with an almost guaranteed annual levy from the Cooperstown Central School District. He chaired the Tree Committee during its initial collaboration with Cornell in preparing a tree master plan that the village still follows today.
His influence reached to Oneonta and beyond through his participation in the Executive Service Corps.
Former Mayor Wendell Tripp remembers he gave a lot to the village and, being an engineer, “in a very precise way.” Heading the Village Board’s street committee, Giles and then Streets Superintendent Carter Coleman walked every sidewalk to determine which needed replacement or repair, said Tripp.
He could surprise, too. When the Fenimore hosted a Grandma Moses exhibit in 2006, it turned out that Giles, raised in Eagle Bridge, knew the family and had many telling anecdotes to share.
Behind a kindly and courteous mien was an analytical mind, a combination that allowed him to subtlely instruct without offense. When communities everywhere have citizens like Giles, they’re valued, as he was valued here.
– Jim Kevlin