Texas state sen. Wendy Davis announced the death of her father Jerry Russell Thursday, according to KERA television today, Friday, Sept. 5. Russell, who founded Stage West, a Fort Worth theater company, was 77.
Russell died following complications from abdominal surgery, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. He was in the middle of directing the current show at Stage West, "Thank You, Jeeves" when he became sick.
Davis delayed her decision on whether to run for governor of Texas so she could care for her ailing father. Originally, she had said she would announce near Labor Day as to whether she would run for governor or for re-election to the Texas state senate in 2014. Davis skyrocketed to national attention in June after speaking at length during her filibuster against an abortion bill at the Texas Capitol.
Davis wrote on her Facebook page, "We and the community, will forever be grateful for the significant impact he made on our lives. He and his warm, sparkling brown eyes will be deeply missed. My family and I thank you for surrounding us with your prayers and comfort during this time."
Under Russell's direction Stage West produced more than 225 shows including Shakespeare and Broadway plays and musicals. He founded Stage West in 1979 in downtown Fort Worth and operated out of a 65-seat storefront theater next to Russell's European Sandwich Shoppe.
Stage West then moved to a larger space and now operates out of a building at West Vickery Boulevard in Fort Worth.
Gary Southard, staunch Democrat and prominent North Texas attorney said, "Ms. Davis looks like a pretty good o'l gal."
Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, said in the past he thought Attorney General Greg Abbot's chances were good for winning the governorship if there is a showdown between the Wichita Falls native and the Fort Worth senator who is a Democrat.
Abbott will have to defeat Tom Pauken to win the Republication nomination while no one has announced on the Democratic side for governor.
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