• Sunday, October 21, 2018
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Hundreds gather to mourn Marco Polo fire victim

  • COURTESY OF TRINA ZELLE

    Britt Reller, left, with his mother Jean Dilley and brother Phil Reller.

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About 500 mourners filled Central Union Church today as they remembered Britt Daniel Reller, the 54-year-old airline executive who died in the July 14 seven-alarm fire at Marco Polo apartments.

Britt Reller, 54, was one of three people — including his mother Jean Dilley, 87, and Joann M. Kuwata, 71 — killed in the blaze. His dog Eddie also died as flames swept the high-rise at 2333 Kapiolani Blvd., next to Ala Wai Community Park. The building, with 568 residential units, was built in 1971 before the city began requiring sprinkler systems.

A line of mourners, many in brightly-colored airline uniforms, stretched past the church doors as they waited under misting skies to hug Britt Reller’s family members and share stories of the role he had played in their lives. The memorial started at 11 a.m and will be followed by a reception.

An airline executive, Britt Reller came out of retirement in Detroit to move closer to his elder brother Phil Reller, who lives in Ewa Beach with his wife Trina Zelle. Britt Reller worked at Hawaiian Airlines only for about two years, but judging by the memorial’s turnout, he had become part of the company’s ohana. He made the last call of his life to a co-worker at the carrier.

Phil Reller said that on the day of the fire he went to the back of the building where Britt’s unit was and reached up his hands and said, “Come on Britt, I’ll catch you,” as he had done so many times in their youth when they visited the pool.

“But he went up and his mother right next to him. She was not going to give up that baby easily,” Reller said at the service. “We since the fire have lived in the grace of God through your love and care and support. You are the fruit of Britt’s love.”

Britt Reller’s career in the airline industry began in 1985 and also included stints at Northwest, Delta, US Airways and American. Phil Reller said several of those airlines plan to have services for his brother this fall.

Dilley, who was a gospel singer in her youth and possessed a strong faith, will be remembered by family in a private ceremony.

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