FORT WALTON BEACH — The community lost one of its most beloved members last week when Dr. Albert Barnard Russell died Aug. 24.

Russell, who worked more than 50 years at Magnolia Medical Clinic, was one of the driving forces behind opening the first hospital in Fort Walton Beach.

In his career, he delivered more than 1,500 babies, performed thousands of surgeries, became one of the first doctors to achieve Family Medicine Diplomat Board status and was the oldest physician in the United States to pass the American Board of Family Medicine re-certification.

He retired in 2010 at the age of 80.

"When you have to leave something you've wanted to do since you were 13, it's hard," he told the Daily News in his farewell story. "This is what I am — I'm just a physician. It's hard to say goodbye."

He was one of the last family physicians who did his own surgeries, as he was trained to do in the early days of medicine.

"Those who have been to the clinic will remember him running between patients, always on the move, always in a hurry," said Dr. Peter Senechal, who worked with him. "The doctors and staff of Magnolia Medical Clinic will miss him greatly. He was the epitome of family medicine."

Russell's complete obituary can be found on page B2 of today's Daily News.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, Sept. 3 at First Baptist Church in Fort Walton Beach at 4 p.m. An escorted procession will leave from the church to a sunset reception to celebrate his life with family and friends.