Capt. George Russell Crofton, Jr., known to all as “Russell,” passed away at home on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, after a battle with cancer.
Russell was born Oct. 31, 1941 at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., and grew up in Coral Gables. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1959 and the University of Florida in 1963.
After serving in the Coast Guard and then receiving his pilot’s license, Russell flew international cargo planes out of Miami and was later hired by Northeast Airlines. Northeast merged with Delta Airlines in 1968, and Russell embarked upon a distinguished 32-year career with Delta, retiring as a captain on the MD-11 in Oct. 2001. For many years, Russell served as an officer with the Airline Pilots Association, International (ALPA).
A lifelong fisherman like his father, Russell and his dad began fishing in Franklin County in 1975 and built a small house here in 1977. Russell retired here in 2001. He served on the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners from 2004-2008 and was a member of the Apalachicola/Franklin County Regional Airport Advisory Committee.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Beverly W. and Lt. Col. George Russell Crofton, Sr.
He is survived by three children, a son-in-law and three grandchildren, all of Tucker, Ga: Grayson B. Crofton and daughter Haley; Elizabeth W. Crofton; Sara Crofton Henderson, husband Chris Henderson and sons Sam and Will; and by a sister, Annette C. Cowart of Gainesville.
Russell was known for his sense of humor, his love of Florida’s natural environment, and his penchant for collecting unusual items (nuts and bolts, keys, metal signs). He leaves behind many well-loved friends and relatives; the family wishes to thank two special friends, Susan Gary and Connie Dehner, for their amazing care and support. The family also wishes to thank Big Bend Hospice for their wonderful work and expertise.
Russell chose to be cremated, and a private family memorial service will be held at a later date. Anyone wishing to make a meaningful contribution in Russell’s name may donate to one of several organizations that Russell faithfully supported, including Apalachicola Riverkeeper (www.apalachicolariverkeeper.org), University of Florida Foundation (www.uff.ufl.edu), or Phi Delta Theta Foundation (www.phideltathetafoundation.org)