Hundreds of prominent figures from Midland businesses were out in force today at Birmingham's Symphony Hall to celebrate the life of Richard Heard, the former managing director of Birmingham International Airport.
Friends, family and colleagues read tributes to the man who had been a driving force behind the expansion of the airport.
Mr Heard died during the fierce storms which hit Britain last month, when a tree fell on his car in Shropshire as he travelled to work. His widow Kay said the family had been "overwhelmed by support from neighbours and friends, and also the help that we have received from the airport".
As a regular at St Philip's Cathedral, the Rt Rev David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham, is hardly a stranger to solemn, reverential crowds.
But even he seemed slightly humbled by the love and respect shown by the solemn crowd as he stood up to welcome the visitors.
"We are all still coming to terms with life without Richard," he said of the man who was one of the first people to greet him at the airport when he flew in to take up his position in Birmingham.
And he was followed by a host of speakers paying testament to Mr Heard's talent, friendliness and astounding drive that made him so competitive and successful in everything he did.
Mr Heard's widow Kay described her husband as a "truly special man", whose sense of humour still brightened their life.
"His death and his life touched so many people, and its not just us as a family who realised what a great man he was," she said. "The girls and I talk about him every day, and we still laugh about the things he did. It was a standing joke in our house that Richard had two families. The second family was the airport and the people who work there."
And the reaction of the crowds of people who knew Mr Heard from his work seemed to back this point up.
Onlookers wiped away tears as Mrs Heard spoke calmly but passionately about the man she had met as a student at Southampton University about 25 years before.
Peter Jarvis, who knew Mr heard for almost as long, said he had been privileged to be a friend of Mr Heard's, and that he had touched the lives of everyone in the hall.
And although the Symphony Hall, designed to hold 2,200 music fans, seemed quite full, there were even more people not there who wanted to have their say.
Brian Summers, the previous managing director of the airport, Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Neil Pakey, chairman of the Airport Operators Association.
All big hitters in the world of business, and all with glowing tributes to pay to Mr Heard, both as a colleague and a friend.
But it was Kay Heard, the woman who knew him best, who best summed up Mr Heard's life.
She said: "Richard always said you've not here long and you've got to make the most of it, and he was right.
"Richard wasn't here long enough, but he certainly made the most of it."