Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Airway Heights honors former mayor

Rushing declares May 30 Richard C. Russell Day.


The city of Airway Heights honored one its own this past weekend.

Last Friday, May 30, was proclaimed as Richard C. Russell Day in honor of the passing of former Airway Heights mayor Richard Russell, 85.

In tribute to Russell, current Mayor Patrick Rushing lowered the flags to half-mast.

Rushing said he had met with Russell while his health was failing. He also knew Russell during his own time as a city council member.

“Dick (Russell) was a good friend well before I was on the council,” Rushing said. He was always there to give advice and the guy was top-notch. It was a pleasure to pay tribute to him,” Rushing said.

Former mayor Matthew Pederson spoke at the June 2 City Council meeting to give his thoughts on Russell’s passing. Pederson said Russell was an individual who the city “could be very proud of.”

“Mr. Russel’s service in this city was always hallmarked by a few key traits of his: professionalism, honor and dignity,” Pederson said. “He worked very hard to make sure that Airway Heights was represented in an honor and professional manner.”

Pederson said after he was mayor, he was honored to meet and shake Russell’s hand.

Russell served as mayor from 1986-1990. He also served on the city’s Planning Commission and City Council. In addition to serving Airway Heights, Russell was the president of the West Plains Business Association and a Cheney School District board director.

Russell was a chief master sergeant in the United States Air Force and served in the Washington Air National Guard. After his retirement, he spent the rest of his life in Airway Heights. Rushing said he tries to honor every military veteran from the area who has passed.

Friday afternoon, Rushing received an email from Russell’s family. He said they were honored by the measures the city had taken to honor their father.

“It was very emotional for them,” Rushing said. “They were very grateful that the city was able to recognize and honor him in a way that most people don’t get.”

Al Stover can be reached at

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