Student wounded on May 4 dies at 60

Kiera Manion-Fischer


Credit: DKS Editors

One of the students wounded on May 4, 1970, died of a heart attack in his home in Deer Island, Ore. Saturday. He was the first of the nine wounded to die since the shootings.

Jim Russell, 60, was a senior fine arts major at Kent State in 1970. He was watching the student demonstration on May 4 when he was shot in the forehead and leg.

After the 1975 civil trial, he and his friend Joseph Lewis moved to Oregon. Lewis was also wounded on May 4. They became friends during the trial.

“He really laid low for a while trying to get over the whole trauma,” said Nelda Pelosi, Russell’s wife.

Twelve years ago, Russell and Lewis started giving presentations to high school and college students about May 4, Pelosi said.

“That was the point in time that he and Joe started their personal healing,” she said.

They both spoke at the most recent May 4 commemoration.

“It was the kids who healed us,” said Russell at the commemoration, speaking for the both himself and Lewis. “By listening to inquisitive teenagers ask questions about what happened, they drew away the demons.”

Alan Canfora, another student wounded May 4, said Russell and Lewis always spoke together.

Lewis is currently in Australia and could not be reached, but his wife Lisa Lewis said he loved Russell like a brother.

Canfora said they never refused invitations from the May 4 Task Force to speak at the commemorations.

Associate Provost Laura Davis, who teaches a class about May 4 every spring, said Russell was very sincere.

“He was kind – very interested in educating students about the legacy of May 4,” Davis said.

She said she got to know Russell during the past five years.

Russell stayed at her house when he and Lewis visited Kent for the commemoration, and Davis and her husband had also visited Russell’s family in Oregon.

She said he was excited about a new camera and was on his way to photograph a marathon after the 2007 commemoration.

“He was very artistic, very enthusiastic, very caring,” she said. “He was a person who loved life.”

Canfora said the last time he saw Russell, they went to the Pufferbelly restaurant in Kent.

“He took me by the shoulder and said, ‘I’m the first one to turn 60,'” he said. “It almost seemed like he was saying goodbye.”

Contact principal reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at [email protected].