Archbishop ‘one-one’ dies

2013-07-26 00:00

BORN in Cowie’s Hill near Durban in 1919, Archbishop Emmeritus Philip Russell died on Wednesday in Australia, aged 93.

The Anglican archbishop had relocated to Australia a few years ago to be closer to three of his four children in Adelaide.

He served as the Bishop of Port Elizabeth (1970 to 1974), and was also the Bishop of Natal (1974 to 1981) and the Archbishop of Cape Town (1980 to 1986). Archbishop Emmeritus Desmond Tutu was his successor.

Interviewed before his death, Russell had joked that he was known by friends at the frail care where he lived as “Bishop one-one” — unlike his friend, the more famous Tutu (two-two).

Russell’s mother was Australian and his father English. He met his wife, Eirene, when he served in World War 2, doing bomb-disposal work as part of the SA Engineering Corps. After the war, he joined the theological college and studied to become an Anglican priest.

Russell was outspoken against apartheid, and worked for the SA Institute of Race Relations and the Civic Rights League. As a parish priest, he started expressing his doubts about apartheid in sermons. Seeing black and white people sitting together, and talking for first time at a church council in 1962, affected him deeply.

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