Dr. Delbert Russell

Dr. Delbert W. Russell

1944 - 2023

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Dr. Delbert

Obituary of Dr. Delbert W. Russell

Dr. Delbert W. Russell, B.A., M.A, Ph.D (University of Toronto). 

Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University of Waterloo,

Visiting Fellow, University of Cambridge. 

March 3, 1944 – September 24, 2023.


Delbert died peacefully with his wife and daughters by his side, three weeks after contracting COVID.  He leaves his wife of 53 years, Ruth, his daughters Susan (Yves) and Jocelyn (Owen), and grandchildren Sam, Thomas, Fiona and Max. He also leaves his surviving siblings Eunice, Lyle, Jim and Ruth; he was predeceased by his brother Ralph and his sister Lorene.


Delbert was born the fifth of seven children in the rural community of Dundalk, Ontario and was raised on a farm.  He attended a one-room schoolhouse for primary school, and in high school determined to go to university. At 18, Delbert earned a scholarship to study at the University of Toronto, studying French language and literature. Supporting himself with scholarships, he held down jobs throughout his undergraduate years to pay all his own expenses. 


During his graduate studies, he met Ruth Weber and they married in December, 1970.  They moved to North Bay in 1972, where he began his academic career teaching French at Nipissing College.  After the birth of daughters Susan and Jocelyn, the family moved to Kitchener in 1978, and Delbert joined the French Department at the University of Waterloo.  He taught there until his retirement.


Delbert served as Department Chair and Associate Dean of Arts. He and his family spent many years in France where he was doing research, teaching and on sabbatical.


Though Delbert had a natural affinity for languages, he also had a keen interest in science and mathematics, and was a pioneer in the realm of computing in the humanities.  He was part of the small team at the University of Waterloo who led the initiative to computerize the Oxford English Dictionary.  In his own field as a medievalist, he achieved an international reputation as distinguished scholar in the field of Anglo-Norman, and was the author of a number of scholarly books on this subject. 


In addition to his many professional accomplishments, Delbert was a devoted husband, father and grandfather.  He possessed considerable musical talent (he could both read music and play piano by ear, a talent envied by his daughters), and enjoyed singing in the church choir for over 30 years.  An avid reader and a fan of word games, Dad was hard to beat at Wordle and the NYT spelling bee.


The funeral and public reception will be held Saturday, September 30, at 3 p.m. at Parkminster United Church, Waterloo, followed by a private reception for family and close friends at Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, Waterloo, at 5:30 p.m.  In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region, or your local food bank.


Funeral Service

3:00 pm
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Parkminster United Church
275 Erb Street East
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Public Reception

Following the service at Parkminster United Church.

Private Reception

Erb & Good Family Funeral Home in the Fireside Reception Room at 5:30pm.