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Former White House Printing Press Operator Makes His Mark on History

Bowie resident Kevin Russell recalls his days working for the White House.

Bowie resident Kevin Russell stands with is White House holiday card collection.|Photo credit: Jenni Pompi
Bowie resident Kevin Russell stands with is White House holiday card collection.|Photo credit: Jenni Pompi
Bowie resident Kevin Russell holds the distinction of being the first and the last White House colored printing press operator, and he has the stories and memorabilia to prove it. 

Russell, who started out working in the Navy print shop, ran the color presses at the White House from 1988 through 2000—that's four presidential administrations. 

During his 12 year tenure, Russell ran about 1,000 jobs a year. Jobs ranged from invitations to the White House Easter Egg Roll to White House employee Fourth of July party invites to parking passes to documents for the National Security Council and the Old Executive Office Building Library. He printed pretty much everything other than the holiday cards and documents with an embossed presidential seal. 

"I did all the printing for the Millennial," Russell said, recalling the events hosted by the Clinton White House to commemorate the turning of the century.

"Everything that you can think of that makes the White House run, we touched it in one way or another," Russell recalled. 

Running the White House presses was very similar to running other presses, though there was much more importance placed on perfection. 

"You know there's a lot of people in the media that are going to be seeing it," Russell said of the many jobs he produced. 

When Russell was running presses, there were several people involved in printing documents—from copy setters to planners to those working in the scripting section and those in the plate room, who sent the jobs on to folders and binders. 

The White House stopped running its own colored presses in 2000. Russell moved on to another job, where he ran a copy machine instead of running a full press.

"It's just not the same," Russell said, adding it only takes one person to run a copy machine. 

These days Russell is retired, but he shares his collections with friends and neighbors at the Bowie Senior Center. Russell kept a copy of everything he ever printed, but he's also been collecting White House holiday cards since he was in high school. 

For the past five years, he has displayed his holiday card collection, as well as some of his print jobs, at the Bowie Senior Center. His collection of White House Christmas cards dates all the way back to former President Richard Nixon. 

See the attached photos of Russell's collection. 

Barbara DeShong December 13, 2013 at 08:44 AM
Nice story Jenni. And thank you to Kevin Russell for sharing this collection.
Jenni Pompi (Editor) December 13, 2013 at 12:06 PM
Thanks, Barbara. It was truly my pleasure to meet and speak with Mr. Russell. I say this all the time, but Bowie really is filled with the best kinds of people.

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