FORMER Air Jamaica pilot and past president of the Jamaican Airline Pilots' Association (JALPA) Captain Russell Anthony Capleton was flown home to his final resting place amidst a tremendous out-pouring of love and support from a large gathering of mourners who flocked the Stella Maris Church.
The 56-year-old pilot, who was lauded by many as an exceptional human being, died of a heart attack on May 10 just four days after his position was made redundant from the airline he served for the last 30 years.
On Friday, scores of mourners from all sectors of society crammed into the church. Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller and Robert Pickersgill were among those present.
In the tributes which flowed, Capleton, who was also know as 'Lord Russell', was described as a man of great integrity and honesty, a reliable friend, loving family man, a gentleman, an eloquent speaker and a respectable man who served his country well.
Capleton's brother, Dennis who could hardly hold back the tears, said his brother was a man of great integrity, which he summed up in his delivery of Rudyard Kiplin's inspirational poem, titled "If".
Patrick Barnes, JALPS' treasurer, in his tribute recalled, "Russell and I flew together at Tinson Pen with the dream of become captains for Air Jamaica. I can recall vividly the Saturday afternoon when he received confirmation of an employment offer from Air Jamaica, how elated he was."
He said that Capleton, who served the association in various capacities, fought to improve the working conditions of the pilots and during his reign as president came up with a plan for Air Jamaica to remain in the country, with the staff as shareholders.
"This vision gained not only local but overseas attention, and tremendous support. Russell became the face of JALPA and at all times delivered the message in his natural eloquent style," Barnes added.
But, although his vision was not realised, Barnes said Russell harboured no regrets and believed that it was the correct thing to do for his country.
Capleton's long-time friend and former rally partner in the Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club, Kent LaCroix, in an emotional remembrance, said it was hard to say goodbye to ' an extremely close friend and colleague.'
"Russ was passionate in all his endeavours as we all know and applied this passion to his love of flying, motor sport, anything that may have attracted him at any given time, like politics, but above all to his family," he said "A reliable and solid individual, he accepted people not for what they could do for him or what position they held, but for the person they were."
He also described Capleton as a devoted husband and caring father who made sacrifices for his two sons, Brandon and Robin and his daughter, Kerry.
"I could not have asked for more sincere friend," he said sadly.
Father Michael Lewis, in his sermon that criticised politicians for not speaking the truth, remembered Capleton as a man of honesty, truth, integrity, who treated everyone as equal despite their position in life.
Capleton is survived by his mother, his wife, Maurine, his children, other relatives and friends.
His body is to be cremated at later date.