Florence “Fifi” Otis Russell

Date of Birth

July 24, 1922

Date of Death

January 14, 2023

Florence “Fifi” Otis Russell, a prolific water-color artist, world traveler, and pioneering arts educator in Southern California museums and schools, passed away peacefully in her home on January 14, 2023, surrounded by her local family, and amazing and dedicated caregivers. She was 100. Fifi was born July 24, 1922, in New York, the oldest child of Dr. Ernest F. Russell and Elizabeth O. Buckingham. As a child, she and her family moved to Santa Barbara. After graduating from Scripps College, she worked assisting WWII refugees, under the auspices of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation, in their Washington D.C. headquarters. She later had an esteemed 30-year teaching career in the Norwalk-La Mirada School District. On her return to Santa Barbara after retiring, she became a fixture in the local arts community for decades. Fifi was preceded in death by her two younger brothers, Scott and David (and his wife Nancy), and is survived by her nieces, nephews, cousins, and their families, and is fondly remembered by a community of friends, locally, nationally and internationally. Her favorite saying, “Isn’t it Wonderful?”, exemplified her love and curiosity of life, and she will be truly missed. A private funeral was held on February 17. Donations in her memory can be made to The Goleta Valley Art Association or The Santa Barbara Art Association.


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