Edith Chumney Russell left deep roots in Cooper-Young

Edith Chumney Russell at 82

Edith Mae Chumney Russell, February 5, 1923 – May 12, 2013

In February 1923 a baby girl, Edith Mae, was the third child born to George M. and Callie Duck Chumney, who lived in the Cooper-Young neighborhood at 2002 Manila.

Mr. Chumney worked for the U S Postal Railway Mail Service. When Edith was six months old the family moved to Arlington, Tennessee, and soon the family increased with births of another daughter and son. The Chumneys now had five children to raise and they were James, Mary, Edith, Melba and Calvin.

Mother Callie took good care of them when their father was away at work sorting mail on the train in time to pass it quickly to stations along the train route as the moving train passed by.  In 1930 Edith attended Arlington Elementary School and was recognized in second grade as an outstanding student.  The Chumneys lived next door to the Church of Christ and their preacher’s daughter was Edith’s playmate.

At 10 years old the family moved back to Memphis and lived on Watauga near Memphis State College. Edith and her younger sister and brother attended the campus “Training School” and went on to Messick for high school where she was a straight-A student. Edith graduated from Messick in 1941. Her older brother, James, with his wife and two small sons, lived a few streets away and Edith had the opportunity to babysit for them in her teenage years.

One nephew, Dr. James Chumney, has fond memories of his two aunts keeping him at his grandparent’s Watagua home while the aunts played and danced to the 1940 popular hits. He liked to run away from home to his grandparent’s house to have fun and get special attention from his favorite aunts — Edith and Melba Chumney.

The George Chumney family decided during World War II to return to the Cooper-Young area across the street from Peabody School at 2083 Young Ave. After graduation Edith began her work as a bookkeeper and payroll clerk and eventually she met her husband, Clifford Marcus Russell, who worked with Moorman’s Upholstery. They lived on Vernon Avenue and had two children — Robin and Randy Russell.

Edith Mae Chumney

As the children grew the Russell family moved to Whitehaven.  Robin married Sid Combs and they settled into a home on Metcalf Place. Randy went to Texas, married and had two sons. Presently he is retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas. After Clifford’s death in 1975, Edith decided to relocate her residence to be closer to her daughter Robin. In 1980 she bought a house at 2050 Evelyn and was happy to be back in the Cooper-Young community.

After working in an office for many years she decided to become a Realtor, which was a good choice for her. She sold homes to many folks during her later years helped the neighborhood where she participated in many activities.

All during her life she was most interested in local and national political activities and was proud to be a Republican.  She kept herself most informed and from time to time she wrote letters to the editor of The Commercial Appeal about various issues.

Her signature was always Edith Chumney Russell and she seemed to enjoy privately chiding her great niece, Carol Chumney, for supporting the “wrong” political party. She urged Carol to change and be a Republican like many of the Chumneys. However, Carol could always count on “Aunt Edith” for loving support in her local political campaigns.

Edith Russell’s interest in people and politics served to keep her mind active until her death at 89 years old.

Reported by Edith Chumney Russell’s nephew, James R. Chumney, Ph.D., June 12, 2013

Author: LampLighter

The voice of Cooper-Young, a vibrant, diverse neighborhood to live, work and play, in the heart of Midtown Memphis, Tennessee.

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