No. 768



Do you know someone in your community, retired or semi-retired, who has impeccable character and integrity, is a good communicator, can chair a meeting, emcee a banquet, and do radio, television and newspaper interviews? The person I have just described, man or woman, can be the leader of a “Bookcase for Every Child” project in your community.
Before I move on, let me be quick to say that every community of any size has a number of people who can do this. To restate the obvious, I am talking about leadership.
Here in Conway, Arkansas, we are blessed to have a retired state senator by the name of Stanley Russ, who surpasses my earlier description with flying colors. He has been involved not only in our bookcase project but with every other organization you can name. He was elected to the Arkansas Senate in 1975 and served 26 years, and served as President Pro Tem of the Senate from 1995-1997. He was named one of the “Ten Outstanding State Legislators in the United States” in 1981. He is a past president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Faulkner County, Kiwanis Club and Central Arkansas Life Underwriters.
Stanley is past state president of Future Farmers of America; past chairman of the Foothills District of Boy Scouts of America; board member of Faulkner County and State 4-H Foundation; member of Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association and the class of 2000 of the Arkansas Agri Hall of Fame; was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow of Conway Rotary Club, and a charter recipient of the Faulkner County Leadership Award by the Faulkner County Leadership Institute in 1997. He also received the University of Central Arkansas Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Distinguished Service Award in 1998.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Arkansas and an associate’s degree in agriculture from Arkansas Tech University. He served during the Korean War, stateside, Army Artillery Division. He is a member of the Second Baptist Church and former deacon and was married to the former Nina Benton for 50-plus years. He is the father of Debbie Merritt and Stan Russ and grandfather of five. There is much more, but you can understand why he was chosen the person with the most influence in Faulkner County when our local daily newspaper, the Log Cabin Democrat, conducted a reader’s poll several years ago.
When we began the Conway Bookcase Project back in 2005, Stanley’s late wife Nina was a charter member of our committee. When she passed away a few years ago, we asked Stanley to take her place and continue the work she had begun. We are blessed to have him and he has made a real contribution, especially as emcee for our Bookcase Literacy Banquet and during the annual Awards Ceremony, when we present the bookcases and a starter set of books to the children and their parents.
Now, here is my real reason for sharing this with you. As I said earlier, every community, of any size, probably has several people like Stanley Russ who can be the leader for a bookcase project in your community.
It’s not a difficult job at all for the right person. We just do what we do best. Other committee members can handle most of the details, but a good leader is really the image of the project that is projected in your community, and in the minds of your people. These children being reared in low-income or disadvantaged homes deserve our best. Together, we are making a difference. Please help us find the right person in your community.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)