Dr. Russ and Dee ( Davadeen Woerner) Fine, Birmingham, Al will receive the HerrinFesta Italiana Lifetime Achievement award for 2017 over Memorial Day weekend.
Area natives Russ and Dee Fine have made every effort to pack three or more lifetimes into one grand, on-going adventure. Since eloping more than fifty years ago, after a half-dozen dates spread out over as many months, they’ve lived in Columbia, Missouri, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Chicago and Springfield. IL and Birmingham, Alabama where they’ve made their home for the past forty-one years, raised two sons, have two grandsons and most recently their first great grandchild.
While working hard at being “a good Mom,” Dee quickly acquired a high public profile after she and Russ founded Alabama’s first chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, eventually becoming the National MADD organization’s vice-president.
Following a multi-year stint in the non-profit, public service sector, Dee was selected by the Alabama Attorney General to create, implement and direct Alabama’s first Office of Victim’s Assistance. For her public and government service which spanned the 70’s and 80’s, in 1984 she was named the first ever female recipient of a prestigious Alabama organization’s Man of The Year Award. Subsequently, Paul Finebaum, a nationally syndicated sports radio and television personality recommended Dee and a “somewhat reluctant” Russ to a heritage Birmingham radio station as talk show hosts, where they began a successful twenty-year run on Birmingham-based radio which included a five-year long morning drive time radio-TV simulcast on Alabama’s largest CBS-TV affiliate.
Throughout their entire broadcast career, Russ continued to lead a “double-life,” pursuing the profession for which he was originally trained and recruited in 1974, serving on the University of Alabama School of Medicine faculty, where he remains today, forty-one years later, as Professor Emeritus of Medicine, in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. His spinal cord, head injury and injury biomechanics research has resulted in over 100 published scientific articles and book chapters in addition to bringing nearly $50 million to UAB.
In 1992, Russ and Dee were the subjects of the highly acclaimed, Emmy- nominated CBS Sunday Night television movie, “The Switch” starring Craig T. Nelson as Russ, Beverly D’Angelo as Dee; and, Gary Cole as a catastrophically injured quadriplegic who sought Russ’ help to end his life.
Russ is the son of longtime area physician the late Dr. Herbert and Esther Fine of Carterville, IL. Dee is the daughter of the late David and Elizabeth Misker Woerner of Herrin.
The couple will be honored at the Mayor’s HerrinFesta Honoree Banquet, Tuesday, May 23 at the Herrin Civic Center and ride in the Grand Festa Parade on May 27.