For all his renown as an attorney and leader of the EPA and World Wildlife Fund, Russell Train ’41 came into my life and became my friend initially in the role of a donor whose ancestor helped found George Washington University. On Feb. 9, 1821, President James Monroe signed legislation granting a U.S. charter for the establishment in the District of Columbia of an institution of higher education to be called Columbian College. The name of the school later was changed to George Washington University. Russell’s great-great-grandfather, Obadiah Bruen Brown, held title to the property on which the school first stood and became the school’s first president of the Board of Trustees. More than anyone else, Obadiah was instrumental in starting the school on a firm financial foundation.
Russell was a major donor to the modern GWU. A few years ago, I convinced him to donate his 19th-century portraits of Obadiah and his wife, Elizabeth, to GWU. Today, they hang prominently in the offices of the university president. What I will miss more than anything about Russell are his charm, sense of humor, and knowledge of how the world operates, all of which I was privy to over many lunches and conversations. He is sorely missed.