Laurie Smullin Russell, a nurse and former hospital official whose extensive volunteer activities extended to fund raising for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis after she was found to have the illness nearly four years ago, died Monday at her Glyndon home. She was 58.
A fund-raiser professionally as assistant director of development at Union Memorial Hospital, Mrs. Russell volunteered her skills for other civic and cultural organizations.
After she was found to have the illness known as Lou Gehrig's disease in August 2000, she became involved in the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins Medicine. She was a member of its board of governors and helped to start a development committee, which she headed for a year.
In 2003, she was named the Muscular Dystrophy Association's winner of the Maryland Personal Achievement Award for her efforts in raising ALS awareness.
"She was an amazing person," said Kathy Davis, administrative director of the Packard Center. "It is a very harsh disease, and she accepted it so gracefully. She really believed that her work would make a difference."
Born Laurie Smullin in Watertown, N.Y., and raised in Wilmington, Del., she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1967 from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked as a clinical nurse and taught at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia for seven years.
She married John R. Rockwell in 1970, and the couple moved to Baltimore County in 1982. The marriage ended in divorce in 1990, and she married business and real estate executive T. Edgie Russell III in 1994.
From 1992 to 1995, she was assistant director of development at Union Memorial Hospital, responsible for planning fund-raising events including its first President's Cup Golf Tournament which annually raises $75,000 for the Union Memorial Hospital Foundation.
She also was a member of the Johns Hopkins Women's Board, which organizes fund-raisers for the Johns Hopkins medical institutions.
She was president of the Baltimore Opera Guild for three years and served on the Baltimore Opera Company board for six years. She helped raise thousands of dollars for educational outreach activities and young artist programs, including concerts in Baltimore schools.
Mrs. Russell sang in the Junior League of Baltimore's Larks women's singing group.
An active member of Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church, she belonged to its vestry for 10 years and started a prayer group in her home.
She organized an art auction to benefit the St. Paul's School choir, in which some of her sons were members, and was chairwoman of the choir parents association.
Inspired by Mrs. Russell's commitment to raising funds for Lou Gehrig's disease research, 11 friends formed the Laurettes, a group dedicated to ALS research. In June 2001, they organized "A Special Evening with Laurie," a dinner dance and silent auction that raised more than $120,000 for the Packard Center and enabling it to purchase a needed confocal microscope.
As her disease progressed, the Laurettes shifted into a support system for Mrs. Russell and her family. They organized a rotation of 70 women to bring her meals, run errands and spend time with her.
"Laurie gave back so much to us," said Pam Corckran, a longtime friend and a Laurettes founder. "We all learned so much about life, love and spirit. She motivated us all."
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Old St. Paul's, Charles and Saratoga streets.
In addition to her husband, survivors include three sons, Scott Rockwell of Baltimore, Jordan Rockwell of Westwood, Calif., and Ted Russell of Baltimore; a daughter, Neal Russell of Boca Raton, Fla.; her mother, Doris. E. Smullin of Baltimore; and a sister, Ricky Daley of Breckenridge, Colo.