Nationally prominent Atlanta business leader Herman J. Russell, 83, died Saturday morning after a brief illness.
Russell was the founder and retired CEO of H.J. Russell & Co., a construction and real estate firm that he founded in 1953 and grew into one of the largest minority-owned companies in the United States.
“He made his transition in a peaceful way,” his youngest son, Michael Russell said in a statement released by the family Saturday evening. “We know he’s at rest.”
In a statement issued Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the city had lost one of its best men.
“No words can express the depth of our sorrow and nothing will ever fill the void created by the passing of Mr. Herman J. Russell,” Reed said. “As the founder of one of America’s most successful construction and real estate businesses, Mr. Russell shattered countless barriers and created greater opportunities for all, but especially for African-Americans. When history catches its breath, Mr. Russell’s life work will place him among the most significant heroes of the Civil Rights movement because of his unwavering contributions and commitment to the progress of this city and nation. Few men have done more to make Atlanta a place where people of all races and backgrounds can bring and build their dreams.”