Gavin was one of life's unforgettable characters. He spend his formative years in China, where his mother anal father were missionaries with the China Inland Mission. These experiences shaped his life.
He did his secondary education in New Zealand and further education in Otago University in Dunedin. He earned an MA and Diploma of Teaching, and later completed a Bachelor's of Divinity at Melbourne College of Divinity.
Gavin taught in New Zealand high schools, and then in 1973-74 at Wynberg-Allen School in Mussoorie. In January, 1979, he became general secretary of the Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship. In February, 1986, he joined Woodstock School as vice principal, and was the Acting Principal in 1986-87 and again in the fall of 1990.
Gavin left Woodstock in July, 1994, and become pastor of the Baptist Church in Wellington, New Zealand.
We recall and remember a man who embraced life. Gavin was always climbing mountains, both literally and figuratively. His exploits are well-known and will live on in our memories. He was a fanatical cyclist. He loved his Bullet, he loved hiking and knew the mountains. He was a great story-teller, with a wonderful sense of humor, a keen, razor-shop mind, an man of cryptic comments, a lucid writer, an excellent communicator whose pertinent comments cut through the drivel. He set himself high standards, was a man you could trust, a person of integrity. Gavin had strong views, often quite original and provocative, not always understood by others.
He challenged accepted notions. but he had people's best interests at heart, and when the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled, there was a relationship that nothing could shake.
Gavin was a man of wide interest, whether it was music, or just sitting in tea shops observing the seasons of the year.
We remember a man of unflinching loyalty to Woodstock School. He looked at the broader picture. Sometimes he had the administrative chair where tough and controversial decisions were made. Gavin had a big heart, underneath he was a very sensitive man who understood the dilemmas and complexities of life, but who made the difficult decisions nonetheless.
We remember a man with a deep faith and trust in God, in who He was and how He had worked through history, a man who believed there was another dimension to life, and whose hope was built on the life, teachings and resurrection of Jesus. He was a person who knew the power and presence of God through the Holy Spirit, and who worked in partnership and cooperation with the Christian Church in India.
We remember a man who loved his family.
Let us give thanks to God for the life and testimony of Gavin. He has set us a fine example of service and sacrifice. Let us be up and about, for as Gavin himself wrote, "I can never sit in the sun for long."
Ron Kapadia was born in Delhi on September 27, 1927.
He attended Delhi United Christian School, and spent early years in a household that included eight brothers, sisters and cousins. One of them, Mr. Charles Dean, has been in Mussoorie for several weeks and is here with Saroj and with us today.
At the end of his school years, in 1942, Ron and his older cousin, Ramsey, spent a brief period in the Navy and then joined the Central Ordnance Depot in Delhi, where Ron worked until the mid-1950s.
During that time, through his friend George McArther, he met a young Isabella Thoburn graduate by the name of Sarojini Lawrence who was teaching at Woodstock School.
Ron came to Mussoorie. He and Saroj were married in Almora January 18, 1956. This year they celebrated 40 years of marriage together.
The first mention of Ron in Woodstock School's records comes in a letter sent to him April 29, 1958, by Canon S.R Burgoyne, then the principal. It begins: "Dear Mr. Kapadia: We are keen to employ someone of ability, experience and integrity who will not only drive the new jeep truck and care for general maintenance,'but will also share in the responsibilities involved in purchasing. I think I am right in understanding that our mutual friend Sharmaji has mentioned this post to you as one which you might undertake." It was a post he took.
This description, at the beginning of Ron's association with Woodstock School, was one that said much about how we would work together, both in terms of the many things he did, and in terms of the way he did them. It was one of those careers, and Ron was one of those individuals, which defines an institution.
Ron was soon filling the post of Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, helping with supervision at the Boys hostel, and acting as liaison with government officials.
In 1972, Ron and Saroj were formally appointed Hostel Supervisors and served in that position for three years. It is testimony to his capabilities that this post came in addition to his continuing duties as Buildings and Grounds Supervisor.
In 1983, Ron and Saroj were sent by Woodstock to the United States. As part of that trip they helped along the process that established an old students association in that country.
No description of the posts Ron held, or the projects he directed, could possibly communicate his full significance to Woodstock School, And to the larger community in Mussoorie and beyond.
Ron did not just belong to Woodstock. He was fully, and completely a member of the Mussoorie community. He loved hunting and the outdoor life, and could often be found walking in the hills that he loved.
He was a long-time member and distinguished Past President of the Rotary Club of Mussoorie, and was a good friend and public figure in that role to many of you who are here today. We know that the Rotary Club and Ron's many friends and neighbors from beyond Woodstock School will miss him as deeply as any of us.
But for many of us, when we think of Ron, we think of Woodstock, and when we think of Woodstock, it is hard to think of it without Ron.
Mr Kapadia retired in 1988, but continued to serve the school as a consultant. Where once he had been a valued colleague, he now stayed as our closest neighbor and one of our senior statesmen and advisors.
In 1992, Ron and Saroj again visited the United States on Woodstock's behalf, and were honored as the chief guests of the Woodstock Old Students Association at their 3-day national convention.
For almost 40 years, from the time of his joining Woodstock until this moment, Mr. Kapadia and Woodstock School have travelled together. Four generations of students, four decades of principals and department heads, and four decades of staff members regarded Ron Kapadia as someone who could give the right advice in a difficult moment, the right word of encouragement in a time of weakness, the right note of fatherly discipline, or just the right joke or touch of humor when the occasion needed it. All of us account it a privilege to have known him and will miss him very much.
Ron is survived by his wife Saroj, his son Fail, daughter Shahnaz, brothers and sisters Joyce Barnard, Richard Jenkins and Winifred Jenkins, and cousins Ramsey Dean and Charles Dean. To you we wish our deepest sympathies and assure you that our prayers are with you.