Vail Daily obituary: Ann ‘Annie’ Frances McMurria Russell
Heaven has another angel — Ann “Annie” Frances McMurria Russell, Aug. 9, 1958-March 23, 2016.
One of earth’s kindest angels is among her fellow angels today. On Wednesday morning, March 23, Ann peacefully passed away at Vail Valley Medical Center after a difficult battle with cancer, comforted by her loving husband Doug Russell, family and friends. Ann was 57 years old.
Ann Russell was born and raised in Denver, the first of four children born to Beverly and Al McMurria. She had many wonderful times with her brothers David and John and her sister Lori before graduating from Cherry Creek High School and going off to college. She studied chemistry at Northern Colorado University and French literature at Colorado University. In 1983, a miraculous thing happened when she met Doug Russell at Marina Landing. They were married at Grace Methodist Church on May 6, 1989, which began an extraordinary love story.
Friends and a love of the outdoors brought Ann and Doug to the Vail Valley on several occasions, and they decided to make their home in that beautiful place in 1996. Ann’s gentle, quiet nature blended perfectly with the beautiful environment surrounding her and, too often to be a coincidence, the deer would greet her as she and Doug walked along the mountain trails. The Vail Valley was also where Ann and Doug developed many friendships and felt a sense of belonging among the Vail, Avon and Beaver Creek communities. Since childhood, Ann’s strong Christian faith had been at the center of her life. Now, as her circle of friends and co-workers grew larger, her belief that the goodness of God is reflected in every human being was the guiding light of her life.
In 1997, Ann began working at the The Charter at Beaver Creek. This was to be her second family for 19 years. It was where Ann’s grace, kindness and a deep compassion for all who she met found the perfect place for expression. Ann was effervescent and her beautiful radiant smile brought joy to those around her. Many of her fellow employees would often seek out the time to visit her in her office just for a pick-me-up or hug; some even called her just to hear her voice. Ann prioritized her time for others, for giving hugs and often stayed late or came in on the weekends to complete her corporate business tasks. Her dear boss and friend for 19 years, Mike Lange, said that Ann gave out countless hugs every day, and he recognized that her greatest gift was in this incredible, endless love she gave to others. She was a dedicated, valuable employee who will be impossible to replace, but her spirit will continue to give hugs to all of her beloved co-workers. Ann participated in fund raisers and volunteered whenever she could for the benefit of her community. In the past year, with the onset of her breast cancer, Ann volunteered for many nonprofit organizations to support the National Cancer Society, including the Pink Vail annual fundraiser.
Ann and Doug enjoyed many wonderful days together embracing every facet of life in the Vail and Beaver Creek communities. Lisa Martinez describes how much she and the others at the gate to Beaver Creek enjoyed Ann’s greetings as she came to work or the sight of Doug driving in to have lunch with her or pick her up for a walk after work. Her dear friend Liz Pyke described Ann as “truly the most precious human being I will ever know.” Ruth Brewster calls Ann “the heart of The Charter.” Ann’s family will always cherish the kindness and wonderful words of the many people at The Charter and at the Vail Valley Medical Center who described their love for Ann and shared wonderful memories of her life.
Ann was preceded in death by her beloved brother, David. She leaves behind her loving husband, Doug Russell; her loving mother and father, Beverly Webster McMurria and Allison McMurria; her loving brother, John McMurria; her loving sister, Lori McMurria; and all of her beloved extended family.
Ann will be missed by all who knew her, but her gentle spirit and gracious smile will live in our hearts forever. One of the last things Ann said was, “Do not cry for me; I am at peace and I am happy. I will see you one day in Heaven.”
Ann’s celebration of life will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at The Chapel at Beaver Creek, 33 Elk Track Road. Reception to follow at 3 p.m. at the Charter at Beaver Creek. Memorial contributions may be made to “Annie Russell Memorial Fund” via check or cash and delivered to any 1st Bank of Colorado or mailed to 1st Bank Avon, P.O. Box 5270, Avon, CO 81620.