Dr. Russell Balvin Brinsfield, 76 of Vienna passed away Wednesday, January 20th at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center as a result of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was born in Cambridge on August 28, 1944 and was a son of the late Truitt Hicks and Catherine Elliott Brinsfield.
Dr. Brinsfield graduated from North Dorchester High School in 1962 and served in the United States Air Force as a Communication Specialist until 1968. Afterward he obtained a BS, MS and PhD in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Maryland College Park.
He spent the majority of his professional career at the Wye Research and Education Center (WREC) as the director from 1981 until retirement in 2015. He also served as founding Director of the Harry R. Hughes Center for Agro Ecology from 1999-2015. During his time at WREC he developed a nationally recognized research program assessing the impacts of agricultural management practices on water quality and the Chesapeake Bay.
In addition to co-authoring over 100 papers, Brinsfield served on numerous advisory committees, councils and boards, including the Chesapeake Bay Trust from 2002-2007 and 2007-2011. He also served on Governor Martin O’Malley’s Maryland BayStat, a program for assessment, coordination and reporting of state wide Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.
In 1990, he and Dr. Peter Brown co-founded the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) as a result of widespread concern that the Eastern Shore’s farmland was being consumed by sprawling development. The mission of the ESLC remained near and dear to his heart until his passing.
Dr. Brinsfield served as Mayor of the Town of Vienna for 22 years from 1997-2019. During that time, the town successfully applied for and received millions of dollars in grants for waterway improvement, town infrastructure and heritage tourism projects. He was inducted into the Maryland Municipal League’s Hall of Fame in 2020.
A part-time farmer of his family’s 150 acre farming operation, he knew first hand how land management principles could impact the health of the environment.
In his spare time, Brinsfield was a member of the Chicone Ruritans and enjoyed playing racquetball, riding with the top down in his convertible and most importantly spending quality time with his family.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Sandy Brinsfield of Vienna, his former wife and mother of Amanda, Ginger Wise Brannock, a daughter Amanda Fenstermaker and husband Phillip of Vienna, grandchildren Claudia, Naomi and Isaac, and a step-daughter, Jennifer Proctor of Florida, two sisters Carol Furbush of Vienna and Elaine Daniel and brother in law Leonard Daniel of Aylett VA and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
Besides his parents, Brinsfield was preceded in death by his brother, Truitt Brinsfield Jr, a sister in-law Diane Walton and husband Don, and brother in-laws Ronald Hughes and Paul Furbush and a niece Jessica Montgomery.
Pallbearers will be Hugh Scott Brinsfield, Ron Hughes, Michael Leonard, Phillip Fenstermaker, Balvin Brinsfield and Gene Gieger.
A walk through visitation will be held on Friday, January 29th 5-7 PM at Reids Grove United Methodist Church 5076 Reids Grove Road, Vienna MD. Services will be private due to COVID concerns, however we will be offering a live stream of services on Saturday, January 30, 2021 at 11 AM. Please visit us on our Facebook page for further details. Face mask and social distancing required. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Reids Grove United Methodist Church ℅ Betty Wilson 5314 Rhodesdale Vienna Road, Rhodesdale MD 21659, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy at 114 S Washington Street, Easton MD 21601 or the Harry R Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology at 124 Wye Narrows Drive, Queenstown MD 21658. Arrangements are in the care of Thomas Funeral Home P.A. in Cambridge