Jerry Russell, the father of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, died Thursday, according to a message she posted on Facebook.
Russell was an icon in North Texas theater circles. He was the founder of Stage West, a nonprofit theater company in Fort Worth. Russell died after complications stemming from emergency abdominal surgery. He was 77, according to a story about his death published in online editions of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Russell's illness figured into the emerging drama of the 2014 campaign cycle. Davis had been widely expected to announce early this month whether she was running for governor or for re-election to her state Senate seat. But after Russell was hospitalized she pushed back that timetable so she could care for him.
“I am heartbroken to report that my father, Jerry Russell, passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning," Davis wrote on Facebook. "He was surrounded by his children and his wife, our stepmom, Suzi. During his time in the hospital, there was never a moment that one of us wasn't by his side."
“We, and the community, will forever be grateful for the significant impact he made on our lives. He and his warm, sparkling brown eyes will be deeply missed. My family and I thank you for surrounding us with your prayers and comfort during this time,” she added.
Davis had worked for several years as a waitress at Stage West, starting when she was a teenager. Russell was in the third week of production of his latest play, Thank You Jeeves, when he fell ill, according to the Star-Telegram.