Funeral held for former WFLA and Sheriff’s Office Helicopter Pilot

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – Funeral services were held Wednesday for long time WFLA helicopter pilot Lester Hathcox, 58 of Tampa.

Hathcox also worked as a full-time pilot and sheriff’s deputy for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office until his recent retirement. Friends remembered his love for flying and working on cars.

“If he wasn’t in a uniform, he was in grease from head to toe,” said John Garbreana the Chaplain with the Sheriff’s Office. Garbreana knew Hathcox from his time as a uniformed patrol deputy for the sheriff’s office before he achieved his lifetime dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.funeral2

SLIDESHOW: PHOTOS OF LESTER HATHCOX

“Lester Hathcox was literally a legend at the office,” said fellow pilot Frank Stott who eulogized Hathcox as a friend and mentor. He recalled a time when Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee visited the air service office on Christmas Eve and brought his friend Hathcox a birthday cake.

With tears in his eyes, Stott told the sheriff how much the gesture meant to Hathcox. “Lester was genuinely moved that you took the time to remember him,” said Stott.

Bob Templeman also flew for many years with Hathcox and like many remembered him as a loving husband and giving person. ” Lester, when he met you, whatever facet of life you were in, whatever your passion was, once he met you he poured his life into your life,” said Templeman.

Following the service a formation of law enforcement helicopters and the helicopter from WFLA TV flew over the church. In each aircraft was a person that had a personal relationship with Hathcox.funeral3

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