May 25, 1936 – May 6, 2015
Nancy K. Russell of Amherst, a retired associate professor of speech pathology and audiology at SUNY Buffalo State, died May 6 in Naples, Fla. She was 78.
Born Nancy Facinelli in Hazleton, Pa., she graduated from high school there, then began her college education after marrying James A. Russell in 1973 and moving to Rochester, Minn.
Mrs. Russell earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska/Lincoln. While attending the University of Minnesota, she was instrumental in organizing and implementing an on-site campus day care center for children ages 3 to 6. That led to the establishment of the Children’s Center at Rochester Community College.
She earned a doctorate degree from the University at Buffalo in 1983, completing work she had begun at the University of Iowa. She developed coursework in Neural Control of Communication that has been added to the curriculum of UB’s Communicative Disorders and Sciences Program.
After graduating from UB, Mrs. Russell received a research and teaching appointment at Buffalo State. She worked in collaboration with Erie County Medical Center’s Department of Rehabilitative Medicine in support of patients left cognitively impaired from stroke and head trauma.
In 1992, that work earned her a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to train students working with patients suffering from traumatic brain injury. She was a mentor to young professionals by helping them develop new ways to improve the communication skills of their patients.
A subsequent article, published in 1993 in a medical journal, received the editor’s award of highest merit.
Mrs. Russell, who retired in 1998, remained in touch with many of her students throughout her life.
While pursuing higher education, she and her husband traveled frequently to visit each other. During summer months, they hiked and camped extensively in the national parks in the West.
Her interests included bridge, golf and reading, in addition to her love of nature and travel.
In addition to her husband, Mrs. Russell is survived by a brother, James Facinelli; one grandson; and three great-grandsons.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Newman Center at UB, 495 Skinnersville Road, Amherst.