LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A giant of the short line railroad industry has passed.
Russell Tedder, who coordinated Georgia-Pacific’s railroads and served as chairman of the American Shortline Railroad Association, has died. He passed Jan. 29 at age 83.
According to an obituary posted at Smith Funeral Home in North Little Rock, Ark., Tedder graduated from high school at 16. He laid aside college plans to accept a job offer as a station clerk at the joint freight and passenger station of the Live Oak, Perry & Gulf Railroad and the South Georgia Railway at Perry, Florida. This job led to a lifelong career in shortline railroading. At 19, Russell was promoted to station agent. One year later train dispatching was added to his duties.
In 1957, he joined the U.S. Army for three years. He first served with the 714th Railroad Operating Battalion at Fort Eustis, Virginia. In 1958 he was reassigned as Chief of the Army’s Rail Transporta-tion Office in Bremen, Germany. After 25 months in Germany he was discharged and returned to his former job at Perry.
With night classes and a leave of absence, Russell earned a Bachelor of Science degree at Florida State University in 1968. This led to a job offer as vice president and general manager of the Sabine River & Northern Railroad at Orange, Texas. It was there that he met the love of his life, Carolyn Ann Jackson. They were married on April 18, 1970.
In 1976 he became president of Georgia-Pacific’s Ashley, Drew & Northern and Fordyce & Princeton railroads at Crossett, Arkansas. By 1991 the number of operating G-P shortlines had increased to nine. That year, besides being president of the shortlines, G-P appointed Russell as Director of Cor-porate Rail Service with oversight over all company owned railroad operations.
Russell served on the board of directors, as regional vice president, and five years as chairman of the board and executive committee of the American Shortline Railroad Association.
Following retirement from the Georgia-Pacific railroads in 1997, Russell operated a rail consulting company with major Fortune 500 forest products companies as clients until 2005.
In 2016 Russell wrote ForestRails; Georgia-Pacific’s Railroads, a 500-page tome illustrated with over 600 photographs depicting the history of the G-P railroads.
Funeral services and burial were Feb. 4. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be sent to Park Hill Baptist Church, 201 East C Avenue, North Little Rock, AR 72116 for the World Hunger Fund.