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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office mourns two deaths in one week

<p>From left: <span id="docs-internal-guid-8eb9eb5f-5ee2-5bab-a59e-c19cfbe8180a"><span>Retired Lt. John Henry Nobles and <span id="docs-internal-guid-8eb9eb5f-5ee2-8ac6-f984-0206b07e5e89"><span>Matthew Russell</span></span></span></span></p>

From left: Retired Lt. John Henry Nobles and Matthew Russell

In a span of two days last week, the Alachua County Sheriff’s office lost a former Lieutenant and a 911 dispatcher, one to illness and the other to suicide.

The deaths, which came Tuesday and Wednesday, spurred memorial services and a sense of mourning at the sheriff’s office.

Retired Lt. John Henry Nobles, 68, who died of an unexpected illness Tuesday, had been employed by ACSO for 25 years, until his retirement in 2000. He also served in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army.

Matthew Russell, 30, who took his own life Wednesday, worked for five years as a 911 dispatcher for the sheriff’s office.

Nobles’ life was celebrated Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville. He is survived by his wife, Deborah; his children, April and John; and three grandchildren — one of whom is carrying on Nobles’ legacy as an ACSO deputy.

Members of ACSO carried Nobles’ casket through Forest Meadows Cemetery-West just before giving him a 21-gun salute.

“It was overwhelming, the respect that was given to him,” Deborah Nobles said. “It was well deserved.”

Nobles’ nephew, John Hughes, said Nobles’ illness may have been due to his time serving in Vietnam, where inhalation of the herbicide Agent Orange was common.

“He was a very giving person — he took care of his family, a devoted father and husband,” said Hughes, who was named after his uncle. “To his grandchildren, he gave his all.”

Russell, whose funeral was held Monday at Williams-Thomas Westarea funeral home in Newberry, is survived by his parents, Brent and Jana; his brother, Anthony; his wife, Courtney; and his young daughter, Aubrey.

After the service, a friend of Russell’s took Aubrey on his lap and revved the red Jeep Grand Cherokee her father was so famously known for driving.

Lifelong friend Brandon Starr said he’ll always remember Russell as the most generous person in his life — the type of person to take a call at 3 a.m.

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“He touched many lives,” said Ashley Laux, another friend of Russell’s. “If you were lucky enough to know him, there’s not a bad thing you could say about him.”

Contact Molly Vossler at and follow her on Twitter at @molly_vossler 

From left: Retired Lt. John Henry Nobles and Matthew Russell

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