By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
October 8, 2020
Former Rep. James Russell Capps (born February 26, 1931), who served as a Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly from 1994 to 2006 (six terms), passed away Tuesday, October 6th, after a short battle with cancer. Capps represented the state’s 50th House District until the legislature redrew the districts. Capps then represented the 41st House District, which included portions of Apex, Cary, Raleigh, all of Morrisville, Research Triangle Park within Wake County, and Raleigh Durham International Airport.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, released a statement to the press on Wednesday, which said:
“J. Russell Capps was a member of the Christian Action League’s Board of Directors for more than forty years. He was currently serving as the League’s Vice President. When I was a pastor, he was primarily responsible for recruiting me to become its executive director in 1999. He was highly respected and beloved by the Board and the League’s entire network of supporters across the Tar Heel state.
“In an age when so many in public service seem to suffer significant character deficits, Russell Capps’ career as a statesman demonstrated a remarkable Christian integrity. He was of the old guard when men acted like men. He was gracious, but he was well-informed and firm in the right. He was a truth-teller, who stood uncompromisingly in times of danger to our state and nation. He was like a mighty oak. His roots were deep. He instructed us by life and lip to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives. His branches extended far and wide so that many could lodge under its shadow. We felt secure and protected as long as he was on the scene.
“For those who knew him best, Russell Capps will be remembered as someone who trusted in Christ as his Savior, who like his Savior gave his life in service and love to others, and who humbly considered the public trust a sacred duty.”
Only weeks before his death, Capps provided family members and close friends, a short autobiography titled, The Precious, Unmerited Favor of God. In the book’s introduction, Capps says that he attempts to describe the multitude of employment and volunteerism opportunities that came his way in life.
“The remarkable thing is that almost all these opportunities seemed to have come to me without my planning or seeking them,” writes Capps, “Thus, opportunities that I consider God’s precious unmerited favor bestowed upon me.”
These opportunities of service included:
- Thirteen years as a volunteer pastor of a mission church in Raleigh.
- Twenty years in the broadcast industry, both radio and television. (Capps was the last living member of the original broadcast staff of WRAL TV in Raleigh).
- Eighteen years as a department head in Wake County government.
- Six years as a planner in the N.C. Department of Crime Control & Public Safety.
- Volunteer Fireman (20 years). Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department (4 years).
- Fire Marshal, Wake County, 1969-1986.
- President, Wake County Fireman’s Association.
- Wake County EMS Founder and Director, 1976-1985
- Wake County’s first Planning Director (Assistant to County Manager in Charge of Planning – Developed and instituted zoning and prepared the original Wake County Comprehensive Development Plan).
- President of the Wake County Taxpayers Association, 1991-2015.
- Six years as a member of the Board of Directors of the Southern Baptist Radio and Television Commission (Fort Worth, Tex.).
- Member of the Board of Regents of Liberty University.
- Member of the Board of Visitors, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 21 years.
- Member of the Board of Directors of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc., 40 years. Also served as Vice President.
Upon learning of Capps passing, members of the Christian Action League’s Board of Directors expressed their sentiments.
“By God’s providence, I was privileged to meet Russell and serve with him on the Board of Directors for several years, said Rev. Jack Marshburn, president of the Christian Action League. “He was the consummate Christian gentleman and an encourager to his fellow board members. As the apostle Paul told the Philippians, I can say of Russell, ‘I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.’”
Rev. Joe Sturz, the chaplain of the Christian Action League, said, “Brother Capps has graduated out of his pain and misery as the Lord put the finishing touches on his character. I shall miss his humble spirit. He demonstrated a rich life in the Lord and unusual career. My life was greatly enriched in knowing and fellowshipping with him.”
Board member Rev. Ray Barnhill said, “My heart is deeply saddened to hear the news about Brother Russell Capps passing. About 2 or 3 weeks ago, I had taken out my copy of his book and read the amazing story of his life again. We have indeed lost a giant of God. A great one has fallen in our state and our country. North Carolina would be a different place today if Russell Capps did not fight the good fight with his life, and particularly with and through the Christian Action League, to keep our state tied to the principles of God’s Word. He has always been a role model and an encouragement to me, and I am proud to be numbered among his friends. One of the great pleasures of serving on the board of CAL has been to be in the presence of his passion and wisdom for the cause of Christ. I will miss him.”
Capps is survived by his wife, Gayle McLaurin Capps; his son Rusty Capps (Nancy), daughter Candace Capps Robinson (Curt); his grandchildren Jamie, Rachel, Rebecca, Abbie, Jesse, Lydia, John, and Joshua Capps and Jaclyn McGhee; and his former wife, Shirley Capps Wallace. He is preceded in death by his brothers, Sinclair and Jack Carl Capps; and his parents.
A funeral service will be held at 11:00 am, Monday, October 12, 2020, at Christ Baptist Church, 400 Newton Road, Raleigh. Interment will follow at Montlawn Memorial Park. Mr. Capps will lie in repose at Bryan-Lee Funeral Home, 831 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh, from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm on Sunday.
The family requests that instead of flowers, contributions be made to the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Inc., 6325 Falls of the Neuse Road, Raleigh, NC 27615. Condolences and memories are gladly accepted at www.bryan-leefuneralhome.com
Funeral arrangements are by Bryan-Lee Funeral Home of Raleigh.