OBITUARY: Kay Johnell Crawford Russell


Kay Johnell Crawford Russell passed away on Monday, March 7, 2022 in Franklin, Tennessee, she was 84 years old.

Johnell was born on November 2, 1937, in Corbin, KY to James Oscar Crawford and Mary Katherine Brown Crawford.

She was named after her paternal uncle, John Leland Crawford. Johnell grew up in Corbin, a small railroad hub in eastern KY, where her father owned and ran the local newspaper, The Corbin Times-Tribune. After graduating from Corbin High School in 1955, she attended St Joseph’s School of Nursing for a year. She then transferred to Vanderbilt University and graduated with a BSN in nursing. Although eventually settling in Tennessee, Johnell’s first big adventure was moving to Alaska while her husband was in the public health service. While there, Johnell learned to be self-sufficient and was active in camping, hunting, and fishing. She continued her love of the outdoors through the years with her family, traveling throughout the country on vacations.

Johnell was always interested in anything her children were doing, spending time with them in their outdoor activities. When her daughter began riding horses, Johnell became DC of the Middle Tennessee Pony Club and helped put on the Nashville Charity Horse Show for many years. By far, she would want to be remembered as a grandmother. Known affectionately as “Ga-Ga” by her grandchildren, she was interested in everything they were involved in. She was always ready to attend any event with them, including ball games, cheerleading, theater performances, and horse shows. She was always available for them to talk to. Nothing gave her more pleasure than to see them laughing and talking together about the latest things they were doing. Johnell had an unconditional and unwavering love for her children and her grandchildren. She was much loved by all that knew her and will be greatly missed.

Johnell was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her children, Dr. Robert Vance Russell, Jr. (Margaret), Dr. James Crawford Russell, and Laura Russell Galoppi (Rob). Also survived by her beloved grandchildren, Olivia Procter Russell, Carolina Wren Russell, Robert Vance Russell, III, Dixie Crawford Russell, Ellie Claire Russell, and Abigail Catherine Galoppi.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Thursday, March 10, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Ann Catholic Church, 5101 Charlotte Avenue, Nashville, TN 37209, with visitation from 9:30 – 10:15 a.m. at the church. Interment in Pine Hill Cemetery, Corbin, KY. Woodbine Funeral Home Hickory Chapel, 615-331-1952.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to St. Ann Catholic Church, Nashville, TN, or St. Philip Catholic Church, Franklin, TN.


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