Retired FISD teacher is back in different school

Russell Arendell teaching a calculus class at Frenship High School before his retirement. (Photo by Jim Watkins)

Russell Arendell may have retired from teaching at Frenship High School, but like his retirement from the U.S. Navy, his days of sitting at home were numbered.

“I jokingly say I was mowing the lawn and discovered that my hat was fitting over my ears. My head was shrinking, as I was losing my skills,” said Arendell, who taught calculus and dual credit college algebra at FHS until May 2007.

Arendell said his retirement lasted one year, until he decided to teach part time at Christ the King Cathedral School. He is teaching dual credit college algebra, geometry and algebra II at the private school.

Arendell said he is enjoying life as a semi-retiree, and celebrated 50 years of marriage with his wife, Fern, in July. Fern is from Roby.

“Actually, the parttime with the three classes and the preparation and the grading and so forth, that consumes” his free time, he said. Early each morning, he said he and Fern get up and work out at Covenant Medical Center. He lifts weights and plays racquetball while she is in tai chi, stretch classes and weightlifting.

The couple’s children, Russ Arendell and Gisela Echols, both live in Lubbock.

“We can see the (four) grandchildren grow up,” Arendell said.

“My family and I had 29 moves in the Navy,” he said. Along the way, they lived in Iceland, Spain, Florida, Corpus Christi, San Diego and Washington state.

He joined the reserves in 1955 after his graduation from Lubbock-Cooper High School. He entered the Navy as an officer after graduating with an accounting degree from Texas Tech.

“I’m a retired Naval officer, with 31 years of credit in the Navy. So I’m a retired Navy captain,” Arendell said. The 31 years include four years in the reserves, which were treated as active duty years for retirement purposes in those days, he said.

He was selected to obtain a masters degree as an exchange student with the Air Force from the Air Force Institute of Technology in Fairborn, Ohio.

“It probably was the most rigorous educational experience I have ever experienced. It was seven days a week, take time out to go to church, and that was it,” he said. “The program was so much more rigorous than any civilian school I’ve ever been to.”

During his Naval career, Arendell worked in several different positions.

Two of the more interesting experiences he said he had were serving in the blockade of Cuba during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and being dispatched to retrieve the first U.S. astronaut to go into space, although his ship did not happen to be the closest to the landing location.

In 1986, Arendell said he and his wife decided to retire from the Navy.

“I was at a point that I could have waited to see if I was going to make admiral. But we had some needs to take care of with both of our mothers. So we have enjoyed the way things have turned out,” said Arendell of the decision to return to Lubbock.

Once he was back home, he went for degrees in mathematics and English from Texas Tech.

“I have always loved math, so I wanted to teach math,” he said. He said he also loves English but did not want to teach it.

“Math only, thank goodness,” he said. “I certainly think those teaching English, in their grading process, it’s extremely difficult. They must be so subjective sometimes; whereas in math, it’s more objective.”

After obtaining his teaching certificate, he taught in Ralls for three years, then at Frenship High School for 15 years.

Of all his careers, Arendell said he enjoyed his career in the Navy very much.

“I think the wife and I enjoyed everywhere we were in the Navy, and then we enjoyed very much returning to Lubbock and being able to not have to change our home every time we turned around. But we enjoyed the Navy very much,” he said.

Arendell said his life’s path has not surprised him much.

“My wife and I are very strong Christians, and we’ve left it to the good Lord to take care of us, and I think he has,” said Arendell. “Life has been good.”

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