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Remembering Russ Cassell

by Chris Porter on October 21, 2014

If someone asked me what major events I remember from 1990 I’d be hard pressed to recall a specific national news story of historical importance. But there is one event that I’ll never forget––it was the day Russ Cassell joined the ProComm voice roster. It didn’t take long for Russ to be known as “Papa Bear” among the staff. His affable personality made him a pleasure to work with and fun to laugh with. Since his passing on Saturday, October 11th, I’ve thought a lot about what made Russ a great man and a dear friend and decided to write a few memories down as a salute and fond farewell to my friend.

Most of our voiceover sessions with Russ were from a distance via ISDN. But several times a month, he’d come to ProComm in person. Often, he’d bring his family with him. Russ loved his family…his wife, Robbie, his three daughters, and the two grandchildren. Russ so freely shared his family with us that we’ve always felt the entire Cassell family was part of the ProComm family.  They all  loved their trips to the mountains and then lunch at Tupelo Honey. Russ would even talk about the day he might even retire to Asheville. Wish that could have been, buddy.

Russ was the last person I know who still carried a “beeper”. When everyone else was moving to instant access via cell phones Russ still required we beep him for a session. I know Russ did have a cell phone, but I honestly think he was protecting his family time by not giving out his number. Russ didn’t care about instant access…he cared about people––especially his family.

The list of well-known advertisers that hired Russ is long and distinguished. But nowhere on the list will you find a political candidate––in spite of many that wanted him. There was a good reason for Russ’s decision to not promote political candidates. In addition to his impressive career as a voice talent, he also hosted a long-running morning talk show. On the air, Russ would voice his opinion on current events and politics. Russ made a decision years ago that he would no longer voice commercials for political candidates of any party for two reasons. First, he felt it was impossible to vet every candidate and know where they stood on current issues. And second, because of that,  Russ felt it might conflict with the views he expressed on his talk show. That decision cost Russ many thousands of dollars in lost revenue. But with Russ, his principles came first.

In 2002 Jeep became a ProComm client. They chose Russ to be their national voice, a sought-after gig that paid very well. That Christmas, Russ drove up to ProComm with a $400 gift card for each member of our staff. That’s twenty people! Russ was a generous man. He wanted to show his appreciation and to share his good fortune with the entire ProComm staff.  We were blown away by his kindness!

There are a few people in each of our lives that we put on a pedestal. People of character. We think to ourselves, “I want to be more like him.” That’s how I feel about Russ Cassell. I, along with the entire staff at ProComm, will always remember Papa Bear’s smile and spirit. I’m proud to call Russ Cassell my friend.

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