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A Closer Look Into Bill Russell’s Last Wife: Jeannie Russell

Delve into the intimate aspects of Bill Russell's life - from the women he loved, and his children to his private histories. Get to know more about the lives of Bill Russell's wives and how these relationships influenced the legendary basketball player's journey.
by Rob Gillham | Dec 5 2023
Credits: TheSun

On Sunday, July 31, 2022, the renowned NBA legend and Boston Celtics icon, Bill Russell, passed away at 88. Bill Russell is synonymous with pioneering the sport and is often called the NBA’s most laurelled player.

With a legacy marked by 11 championship titles, Russell played a monumental role in leading the Boston Celtics to dominance in the 1950s and 60s. Despite his public life, there is more to Russell’s story than his success on the court.

Through this article, we will delve into a whole new side of Bill Russell and unveil interesting details about his four marriages and the ultimate love of his life.

Jeannie Russell: The Last Wife of the Basketball Legend

Bill Russell and Jeannine Russell (55) tied the knot in 2018. While much about Jeannie is kept out of the limelight, it is apparent that the couple shared a quiet, loving relationship away from the court.

Jeannine, who has also been known previously as Jeannine Fiorito and Jeannine Maddux, is the fourth wife of Bill Russell. The exact timeline of when their paths crossed remains a mystery, but it is known that they exchanged vows in 2018 when Russell was 84, with their anniversary falling on December 8. 

Behind Jeannie Russell’s Golfing Career 

Jeannine Russell, wife of NBA star Bill Russell, was professionally recognized before her wedlock with her golfing prowess. Her milestones include a 64th-place finish at the Canadian Women’s Tour in British Columbia, and a remarkable 19th position in Ontario’s tournament in 2010, the same year she clinched the “Player of the Year” title.

Her highest achievement came with a 15th finish at the 2009 Seymour’s Canadian Women’s Tour. Bill and Jeannine also shared a mutual love for golf. A memorable moment was September 6, 2021, when they spent the day playing and perfecting their shots on the putting greens.

College Love and Tragic Death: Bill Russell’s Three Other Marriages and Children

Before meeting Jeannie, Bill Russell was married three times. 

First, 1956 his college sweetheart, Rose Swisher, became his wife. However, despite their bond, emotional differences led to their divorce in 1973.

His union with Rose gifted Russell with three children – Karen, William Jr., and Jacob – each carving their paths in life. The eldest son, William Felton Russell Jr., shared November 2, 1957 – January 25, 2016, with the world.

Nicknamed “Buddha,” William Jr.’s passion was trucks, leading him to a career at Cox Trucking. Bravery defined his battle with cancer, which he eventually lost, passing away peacefully in his sleep.

Karen Russell, their eldest daughter, was born on January 20, 1962. She achieved notable success as a legal and political analyst and blogger.

A Harvard Law School graduate, Karen is known for her insightful commentary on high-profile trials and national political discourse and her contributions to social activism.

Meanwhile, Jacob H. Russell, Bill Russell’s youngest child born on July 6, 1959, cherishes his privacy, resulting in limited information about his life. It is known, however, that he lives alongside his wife, Sara Marckx Russell, in Washington.

After his divorce from Rose in 1973, Russell found love again in 1977 when he married Dorothy Anstett, Miss USA 1968. However, this marriage also ended in divorce in 1980. 

The resilient Russell found companionship once more, marrying Marilyn Nault in 1996. Through bonds of love and friendship, their union lasted until Nault’s untimely passing in 2009. And then, after several unsuccessful marriages, he found love in Jeannie.

For a comprehensive look at a key moment in basketball history, The Rise is available in the Blinkist app and is an excellent resource. Interested readers are reminded that they can enjoy a free 7-day trial, providing them access to a vast array of books. 

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