Katie Russell, 38, filled a need in Castroville with heart
Katie S. Russell had a longtime dream of starting a pediatric practice in Medina County.
The pediatric nurse practitioner, seeing a need for children’s health care in the area, fulfilled that dream by opening Medina Valley Pediatrics in August 2017 in Castroville. She billed it as the first full-time pediatric office in the county.
“She had faith this was going to be successful, but just never imagined how quick that that would occur,” said husband Justin Russell.
The practice had about 1,400 patients when Katie Russell’s life was cut short Jan. 7, four days after she went into cardiac arrest while exercising with friends. She was 38.
Her death was a blow to the Castroville community, where she was known as a faithful Christian who loved her family, church, patients and neighbors.
A celebration of her life held Jan. 14 at First Baptist Church of Castroville drew more than 800 people. A video of the service posted to the church’s Facebook page has garnered more than 7,500 views.
“If you knew Katie, you knew love and you knew compassion, because she had that for people,” said her friend Tara Wilks, who recently moved to Altus, Okla., from Castroville. “She was the most amazing, genuine, passionate, God-fearing woman that I have really, honestly, ever known.
“She just had it all together,” Wilks said.
Russell was known for putting her young patients at ease during an examination by telling them, “Let’s see if you’ve got any monkeys in your ears.”
“I can’t tell you how many people said that to me” when recalling her at a Jan. 13 visitation, Justin Russell said.
Katie and Justin Russell met while they were both attending the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. The couple married in 2001 after Justin Russell’s graduation. They remained there while she earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing and psychology.
After her graduation in 2003, the couple moved to San Antonio. She earned a master of science degree in nursing in 2007 from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, now known as UT Health San Antonio. She was licensed by the state as an advanced practice registered nurse.
Russell worked at Northeast Pediatric Associates on San Antonio’s Northeast Side for 10 years before starting her practice.
“She was there for her patients pretty much 24 hours a day,” Justin Russell said. “She was always a servant and always looking to help somebody in need.”
The Russells enjoyed traveling, particularly to Disney World with their two daughters, Jordyn, 11, and Jiliana, 7. They also took ski trips to Durango, Colo., and Red River, N.M.
Katie Russell served as First Baptist Church’s outreach coordinator, helping to expand the congregation. She and her husband co-taught Sunday school for more than 10 years.
During the Jan. 14 service, Justin Russell told the congregants that after his wife fell ill, people in such far-flung places as Atlanta, Canada and India were praying for her.
“How amazing is that?” he said. “And here’s what I want to encourage you with: Those prayers were answered. We prayed for a miracle and a miracle occurred. My wife ended up being an organ donor. And so how many of those organ recipients, their families, have been praying for a miracle? There’s no telling.
Her liver and kidneys helped save four lives, Justin Russell said.
“God used her and He provided a miracle for all those people,” he said during the service.
Donations are being accepted for the Jordyn and Jiliana Russell Education Fund at Security State Bank at 1726 U.S. 90 East, Castroville, Texas, 78009.
The Texas Nurse Practitioner Foundation has set up the Katie Russell Memorial Scholarship Fund. Donations can be mailed to the foundation at 4425 S. Mopac Expressway, Building 3, Suite 405, Austin, Texas, 78735.
The fund’s name should be included on the check’s memo line. Donations also can be made online at https://tnp.givingfuel.com/katie-russell-memorial-scholarship-fund.
Patrick Danner is a San Antonio-based staff writer covering banking and civil courts. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @AlamoPD