Atlanta icon Herman Russell dies at 83

WXIA -- Herman Russell, a lifelong Atlantan and founder and former chief executive officer of H. J. Russell and Company, passed away Saturday afternoon.

Russell was 83 years old. He died after a brief illness, according to his family.

Some of the construction projects H. J. Russell and Company were a part of included Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, and Turner Field.

The firm is also involved in the building of the new, nearly $1.3 billion dollar Falcons stadium due to be completed in 2017.

Russell became the first black member of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce in the 1960s, and later became only the second black president of the chamber.

He was considered instrumental in the 1973 election of Maynard Jackson as Atlanta's first black mayor.

Russell was a huge philanthropist in the city, donating generously to many causes including Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and and Georgia State University.

A wake for Russell will be held Friday at 6 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The funeral will be Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Philip AME Church.

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