IN MEMORY OF
Russell Wayne Bell
October 23, 1956 – January 14, 2022
Russell Wayne Bell, 65, of Apex, NC, passed away on January 14, 2022. Russ was born on October 23, 1956, in Marietta, GA, where he spent his childhood. After high school, he became the first in his family to attend college and self-funded his way to a Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering Technology from Southern Technical Institute and a Master of Science in Information and Computer Science from Georgia Tech. In addition to his formal schooling, he was a lifelong learner with a library of over five hundred books – most of them textbooks – which he devoured in his free time.
Russ’s passion for learning led him to a successful career. He started as an engineer at Scientific Atlanta and then Lockheed Martin but left to become an Assistant Professor in Electronics at his alma mater, Southern Tech. A close friend and colleague then pulled him back to industry with a position at Advanced Micro Devices, where he worked for almost fourteen years. In 1998, Russ left AMD to join a small start-up in which he couldn’t convince AMD to invest. As it turns out, Russ called it correctly, and that small company grew to a market cap of over a billion dollars. From then on, Russ served as a start-up executive, taking on various roles in Marketing and Business Development. His technical knowledge and immense creativity led to twenty-four U.S. patents throughout his career.
His various jobs brought him all around the country. After growing up in Georgia, he moved to North Carolina, California, Texas, New Jersey, and New Hampshire. He also traveled extensively for work, racking up over three million air miles on Delta alone. While working for a start-up in New Hampshire, Russ met Nicole Gerrish, and the two colleagues became inseparable. When their company started to struggle, the new couple moved to California, and after their marriage in 2006, they settled in North Carolina, a favorite of Russ’s after all his travels.
Russ’s passion for work was only rivaled by his passion for life, which he filled with his favorite hobbies. His first love was the guitar. He started playing at the age of twelve, and it quickly became his favorite pastime. He practiced seven to eight hours a day for years and became a player who could hang – or even beat – the likes of Carlos Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughn. His love of the guitar was what drew him to electronics. He became obsessed with the soundboards and amplifiers and wanted to learn how they worked. After a few trips to the library, he had figured it out.
Russ’s other favorite hobby was sporting clays, which he described as golf with a shotgun. He and Nicole spent their honeymoon shooting every sporting clays course they could find as they drove cross-country from California to North Carolina. He also enjoyed mountain biking, skiing, hunting, and sailing.
In 2010, Russ decided to step back from his successful career and become “Mr. Mom” when his son Ryan Hunter was born. Three years later, he and Nicole were again blessed with a daughter, Hailey Grace. Russ enjoyed every goofy belly laugh and told anyone who would listen about his two little “rockstars.” Russ also has a daughter from his first marriage, Andrée, who carries on the musical tradition with her talent in singing and songwriting. Her husband, Tim, makes music with her as a guitarist, and Russ would have loved jamming with them.
Russ’s final years were not lived the way he wanted. In early 2017, he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. He and Nicole later figured out that his condition was caused by Lyme disease, two Lyme co-infections, and heavy metal toxicity. When Russ was still Russ, he told Nicole that he led a good life and was proud of the family they built. The journey was challenging, but Russ smiled and made others laugh much of the way through.
Russ was preceded in death by his parents, Garvin and Ila, his older brother, Ray, and three of his favorite dogs, Reagan, Radar, and Sonar. He is survived by his younger brother, Doug, his wife, Nicole, and their children, Ryan and Hailey, and his daughter from his first marriage, Andrée Conley, with her husband, Tim, and Russ’s firstborn grandson, Timotéo. He is also survived by a somewhat menacing puppy, Radar Junior (known as Junior).
Russ will be most remembered for his stunning wit, infectious smile, and uncanny ability to solve problems before they start.
A celebration of life will be held at to be announced date in the spring. In lieu of flowers, we ask that memorial donations be made to the TickBytes program at Invisible International (through the giving page below). This critical initiative will develop the first multi-institutional tick-borne illness data repository. The information gathered will identify clinical protocols using a precision medicine approach to help the millions suffering from tick-borne illness.
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