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Russell LeeRoy Pickett of Soddy Daisy closed his eyes here on earth and opened them again in heaven on Sunday, August 2. His 95 years were filled with adventure, sacrifice, faith in God, and the kind of heart that beats to give back to those around him. His legacy of living a Christian life, patriotism to his country, and kind and gentle spirit will live on in the lives of those who loved him. He enjoyed laughing, golfing, living, studying and teaching God’s word.

Before retiring, Russell operated Pickett’s T.V. shop in Soddy Daisy and played bass guitar in a family Christian group.

At 18, Russell joined the U.S. Army and was one of the only survivors in the first wave of soldiers to storm Normandy Beach on D-Day. In 2019, at the 75th D-Day anniversary celebration, President Donald Trump said of Russell “You honor us with your presence. Tough guy.” This story made national news, and soon “our hero” was everyone’s “hero.” After retirement, Russell worked with the DAV and made a positive difference for countless veterans. The friendships he made with many of them live on in the stories they share about the impact he had on their lives.

He lived through the great depression, WWII, and decades of change. He attributed his survival and ability to thrive to the prayers of those who loved him. A soldier in battle and in life, Russell often and passionately said “God is good, isn’t He? The psalmist said ‘Oh that men would praise God for his goodness and wonderful works to the children of men.”

Russell was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Minerva Pickett; siblings Otto Pickett, Joe Pickett, Pauline Hodge, Helen Wilbanks, and Donna Hobson; son Eddie Pickett; and his children’s mother Audrey Pickett. He is survived by his devoted wife of 38 years Marilyn Pickett of Soddy Daisy, TN; brother Charles (Elaine) Dobbs of Buffalo, NY; daughters Janet (Larry) Spence of Soddy Daisy, TN; Diane (Edwin) Spence of Soddy Daisy, TN; Marie Pickett of Dunlap, TN; Janet (Derek) Thomason of Essex England; son Kenneth Evans of Flintstone, GA; 12 grandchildren; 29 great grandchildren; several great, great grandchildren.

Visitation is Friday, August 7, 9 to 11 a.m. at East Daisy Church of God, followed by a memorial service at 11 a.m. and private burial at the National Cemetery. The family asks everyone to wear a mask and abide by social distancing practices. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Best Defense Foundation (bestdefensefoundation.org). The family would also like to thank Amedisys Hospice nurses Cynthia Johnson and Misty Rice, as well as Home Folks Restaurant owner Rick Hall who has been a benevolent friend these last several months.

Condolences and memories can be shared at www.williamsonandsons.com.

Arrangements are by Williamson and Sons Funeral Home, 8852 Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379.