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Sister Doris Tendai Russell

by RSHM Eastern American AreaCategory: Obituaries4 Comments

woman with short cropped hair and glasses in green and black tie-dye top

Sister Doris Tendai Russell RSHM, previously known as Sister Immaculee, died at Marymount Convent, Tarrytown, NY, on December 2, 2022. She was 98 years of age and had been a member of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary for 77 years.

She was born Doris Russell in Rome, NY, to James and Stella Mary Birnie Russell.

She received a BA in English from Marymount College, Tarrytown, NY and an MS in Business Education from Columbia University, New York, NY.

She entered the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary at the RSHM Novitiate in Tarrytown, NY, on July 22, 1943. At the time of her reception as a novice, she was given the name Sister Immaculee. She made her first vows on February 4, 1945, in Tarrytown, where she also made her final vows on February 11, 1950.

Her first ministry was at Marymount School, Tarrytown, NY, where she served for 21 years. During that time, she worked in the school office, taught, and was assistant principal and principal (1945-1966). She taught at Marymount International School, Rome, Italy (1966-1968) and at Yonkers High School (1967-1968). She was also the principal of St. Thomas Aquinas School, Bronx, NY (1968-1970).

From 1970 to 1976, she was the Director of Personnel for the Eastern American Province of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

She returned to Rome as elementary school principal of the Marymount International School, Rome, Italy for four years (1976-1980) and later for one year (1984-1985).

In 1980, she went to Dangamvura, Zimbabwe where she served for 38 years (1980-2018). Shortly after arriving in Zimbabwe, she was given the Shona name, Tendai, which means thankfulness.

In 1980, Dangamvura was a new township of low-income houses and very few services. Her ministry helped to fill in gaps and bring improvements to the township.

She taught at Dangamvura High School and was dedicated to the pastoral outreach of the local parish. She visited the sick and the housebound elderly. She brought them Communion. She drove so many to the hospital that she put a large red cross on her car.       

The children of Dangamvura did not have access to books, so with help of relatives, friends and other RSHM, she built a library. Begun as a few shelves of donated books in a room the size of a closet, it quickly grew and had to move several times. It now shares space in a large new building where many services are provided to the people of Dangamvura.    

In 2018, she retired to Marymount Convent, Tarrytown, NY, where she was living at the time of her death.

Sister Doris Tendai is preceded in death by her parents and her sister Jean Russell Buckley She is survived by her nieces Karen Buckley Shorr and Barbara Jean Buckley, nephews J. Russell Buckley and William H. Buckley, and by the members of her RSHM family.

Services at Marymount Convent, 32 Warren Avenue, Tarrytown, NY. Visiting is Wednesday, December 7, 4:00 – 7:00 pm with Vigil Service at 7:00 pm. Mass of Christian Burial on Thursday, December 8, 10:30 am. Burial at Mount Calvary Cemetery, White Plains.

We ask all non-RSHM attending to please wear a mask.

We invite you to join us for the live-streamed Vigil Service and Mass on our website ( where it will be archived.

In lieu of flowers, gifts in her name may be made to Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, 50 Wilson Park Drive, Tarrytown, NY, 10591.

4 thoughts on “Sister Doris Tendai Russell”

  1. Avatar

    My sincerest condolences to Sr Doris’ family. She was known as Mother Immaculee to my class of 1965 at Marymount Secondary School, Tarrytown. She was my English teacher. She was small in stature but such a large influence on our class.
    May her memory be a blessing always.-Lorette Auditore Lavine

  2. Avatar

    I join the RSHM extended family in thanksgiving for the life of Sister Doris Tendai, principal of Marymount Secondary School, Tarrytown, during part of my time there. I remember her as a whirlwind of energy. The hard work and love she gave to so many people in her long life of service will always be an inspiration.

  3. Avatar

    My sincere condolences to the RSHM family and her family… Sr Tendai will be greatly missed by us all in Dangamvura and especially my family on a more personal note.. A very outstanding woman who mingled with our people regardless of everything… I will always cherish her words to me when l bade her farewell when l joined the Dominicans…. Rest well, Sr Tendai, in life, in death, we love more…….. Greatly missed by my mum

  4. Avatar

    Mother Immaculee was one of the most influential people in my life. When I was a boarding student at Marymount, Tarrytown back in the 60s, she exuded energy, brillianCE, and a commanding personality with gentility and strength combined. I think of her often, and I’m sorry to hear of her passing. But I’m sure she influenced many throughout her very meaningful life. RIP.

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