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Farewell to a fine Friend: Terry Feehan obituary

Justin Feehan remembers his late father as a fine man with a common touch with people.

MONIQUE FREER July 16, 2014 5:00am

Former NJ Todd funeral home owner Terry Feehan died from cancer on June 26.


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Former NJ Todd owner Terence ‘‘Terry’’ Feehan will be remembered as a compassionate person who treated everyone he met with respect.

Mr Feehan died on June 26 after a battle with cancer. He was 73.

The Benalla man was well respected in the community for his empathy with people who came through his funeral home.

‘‘He had a common touch with people,’’ his son Justin Feehan said.

‘‘In the business you come across all types of people, whether wealthy or poor or destitute, and regardless ... he was able to connect with people from all walks of life and make them feel comfortable.’’

Mr Feehan handed over the business to his sons, Justin and Damien, two years ago.

Born in Yarrawonga, Mr Feehan spent time with his family in Melbourne and Wangaratta before moving to Benalla in 1985 to take over the funeral home with his wife Kathleen.

The pair was married in 1963 and had six children: Damien, Justin, Brendan, Therese, Gabrielle and Felicity.

‘‘He found his niche in life when he became a funeral director,’’ his daughter Felicity Knobel said.

‘‘He was proud of being a funeral director and he loved working to assist families at this time.’’

The Feehans also lost two children — Jacinta and Gerard — in infancy, which led to them waiving all funeral costs for parents who lost young children.

The two children were born and buried at Yarrawonga, however, their bodies were relocated to Benalla last year and now rest at Benalla Cemetery with their father.

‘‘In Mum and Dad’s marriage, they showed what hard work, generosity and kindness was. Loving each other in spite of faults and bad tempers and to forgive and move on is the only way,’’ Ms Knobel said.

‘‘As the children of Terry Feehan, we have had a lifetime of being contradicted by him, argued with him and had to listen as he has shared what he believed to be the only opinion or advice on a given topic.

‘‘He instilled in us that we were no better than anyone else and no-one was better than us.’’

Mr Feehan was also a passionate member of Rotary Club of Benalla, which provided endless support during his illness.

‘‘The funeral business was 24-seven so there wasn’t time for much else other than work and family,’’ Justin said.

‘‘Rotary was a chance to relax and be himself, rather than a funeral director.’’

Members of Rotary Club of Benalla formed a guard of honour at Mr Feehan’s funeral on July 4.

During the service, five items were carried to the altar by his grandchildren to represent things he loved.

A Matchbox car symbolised the pride he took in maintaining his cars, a Melways directory represented his many copies of his faithful street directory, an ice-cream container and a bottle of Diet Coke, which were two staples in his diet while on the road, and a Tigers scarf represented for his unwavering love of the Richmond Football Club.

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