It is with heavy hearts that NOARK announces the passing of colleague and friend Russell Gunter, one of NOARK's greatest advocates and friend to us all. Russell died peacefully on Feb. 9, 2013, with family and friends at his side, following a courageous battle with cancer. He was 62 years old.
Russell was a founding member of CGWG where he practiced labor and employment law and served as the firm’s managing partner for 16 years. Blessed with everything but a long life, he was a loyal friend, patient mentor and trusted advisor whose integrity earned him not only the respect of clients but also that of opposing counsel. Despite his diagnosis of cancer in 2008, he continued to work virtually uninterrupted until early 2013. His quiet demeanor, analytical skill, positive attitude and strong work ethic were hallmarks of his personality, both within the legal profession and among friends.
“Russell’s legacy is immeasurable,” says Rick Roderick, CGWG’s managing director. “His gentle presence touched the lives of those he worked with daily. His compassionate nature cultivated a feeling of family at our firm and his forward-thinking ideas regarding workplace practices earned CGWG local and national praise for family-friendliness and flexibility, something Russell was extremely proud of. It was an honor to work with him and to call him a friend. Our goal now is to continue his legacy of compassion and commitment in a way that honors his life’s work.”
While a student at Southern Arkansas University, Russell was a cross country runner. Having grown up on the flat terrain of west Texas, he loved running the hills of Arkansas in its prettiest seasons of Spring and Fall and it was then he knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Arkansas. After graduation, he returned to Texas long enough to earn a juris doctorate at Texas Tech University and then immediately returned to Arkansas and adopted it as his home state.
Although a self-acknowledged introvert, Russell took an active role in many organizations. He was a member of the Arkansas, Texas and American Bar Associations, served as Chair of the Arkansas Bar Association’s Labor Section and as Director of Government Affairs for the Arkansas Society for Human Resources Management. As a member of the Society for Human Resources Management, he served as Chair of the National Legislative Affairs Committee, testified before U.S. Congress and appeared on “The Today Show” on behalf of the Society’s legislative positions. He was President and a Board Member of the Central Arkansas Human Resources Association, and also served on the Board of Directors of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce.
The Arkansas Society for Human Resources Management named him Outstanding Human Resources Professional in 2001 and awarded him its Legislative Advocacy Award in 2005 and 2006. He received the Central Arkansas Human Resources Association Outstanding Member Award three times. Russell was named Best Lawyers’ 2012 Little Rock Lawyer of the Year for the category of Employment Law – Management. Other honors include being named to Best Lawyers of America for more than 25 years, Mid-South Super Lawyers since 2006 and Chambers USA for the past nine years.
Nothing was more important to him than his four daughters who survive him: Kimzey Gunter of Taos, New Mexico; Sarah Gunter Newman of Austin, Texas; Laura Gunter of California and Rachel Gunter of Little Rock. He was a constant in their lives and was proud of the adults they became. He also is survived by his grandchildren: Isaac, Tea and Cedar Hardaway of Taos, New Mexico, and his sisters Barbara Burton of North Carolina, and Shellie Sims and Diane Brown, both of Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents.
Russell was born on February 21, 1950 in Amarillo, Texas to the late John Allen “Buster” Gunter and Shirley Ann Russell Gunter. His mother died on his seventh birthday and his father later married Beulah Gay Harden.
A celebration of Russell’s life will be held at a later date.
The family requests that any memorial donations be made to the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.