Russell M. Pelton, Jr., ’63, 1938-2022

Russell M. Pelton, Jr.

Russell M. Pelton Jr., an attorney, author of legal mysteries, and zoning board chairman in Wilmette, Illinois, who was deeply involved in North Shore civic life, died on Sunday at the age of 84 at Evanston Hospital. The cause was cerebral hemorrhage.

Pelton was known for his Humphrey Bogart-style fedora, quick wit, and frequent dinners at Sophia’s Steak in downtown Wilmette near his condo at 724 12th St. He published three novels about his long and colorful career as a litigator: The Dance of the Sharks, in 2014; The Sting of the Blue Scorpion, in 2015; and Enemy in the Shadows, in 2018.

Pelton also served on the School District 39 Board of Education from 1972-1980 and ran for Wilmette Village President in 1980, losing to Vernon Squires. After that, Pelton served as Chairman of the Wilmette Zoning Board of Appeals from 1991 to 2000.

He was a husband of 59 years to his hometown sweetheart, Patty Jane Pelton, who died in 2021. They had six children (the first two died as babies) and eight grandchildren.

During good times and bad during his life, Russ Pelton – a cancer survivor -- combined a tenacious love of life with endless generosity and compassion, a brilliant mind, an impish sense of humor, a love of history, and passion for the finest food and wine.

In a legal career of more than a half a century, Pelton defended doctors and medical associations against numerous lawsuits, winning a series of major cases for clients that included the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

Read more at Donnellan Family Funeral Services