Veteran firefighter Max Lear was farewelled on Saturday with the pomp and circumstance fitting of a man who had dedicated his life to his community.By Riahn Smith
Veteran firefighter Max Lear was farewelled on Saturday with the pomp and circumstance fitting of a man who had dedicated his life to his community.
Hundreds of friends, family members and colleagues packed St Augustine’s Anglican Church in Shepparton to pay their respects to the man who always put others first.
Former colleagues and friends formed a guard of honour outside the church and also at Shepparton Fire Station.
The funeral cortege then made its way to Shepparton Cemetery where a second, smaller service was performed.
Mr Lear’s body was transported on a historical fire truck that was also one of the first vehicles he used in his early days with the brigade.
The 73-year-old, who died on March 7 after suffering multiples strokes and spending some time in hospital, was remembered as a generous man whose hospitality reached far and wide.
Brother Ron talked about Mr Lear’s more than 50-year career of distinguished service to Shepparton Fire Station, and daughter Sue spoke of his family life.
‘‘He was always there to help others,’’ Ron said.
Ron told stories about his brother’s time as a publican at the Undera Hotel Motel.
One of his favourites was about the late Sid Patterson — a world champion cyclist who used to pop into the pub to visit Mr Lear.
Ron said Mr Patterson dubbed the venue ‘‘Undie Alcatraz’’
‘‘He meant that once you get in there, you can’t get out,’’ Ron said. ‘‘This summed up Max’s hospitality.’’
Good friends and colleagues Brian O’Mahony and John Wilson also told stories of their time with Mr Lear.
And while friends and family gathered in Shepparton, Country Fire Authority colleagues from Harvey Fire Station in Western Australia held their own memorial to honour their friend.
Mr Wilson, who had known Mr Lear since he was a young boy, said the service was an ‘‘extremely fitting’’ tribute to his mate.
‘‘A lot of people had a lot of memories about Max, he was one-of-a-kind,’’ Mr Wilson said.
‘‘No-one will ever be made like him again, he’s just a legend in his own lifetime.’’
Friend Noel Hussey agreed it was a ‘‘great send-off to a great bloke’’.
‘‘It was deserving because he’s been an outstanding citizen for so many years. Not only has he served in the brigade, but served the community in so many other ways,’’ Mr Hussey said.
‘‘He was just a really good bloke.’’
Mr Lear was born Maxwell John Lear on June 17, 1939 at Una Hospital, Shepparton.
He joined Shepparton Urban Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1957, was appointed secretary/treasurer within a year and dedicated the rest of his life to serving the brigade and the community.
In his lifetime Mr Lear received a number of awards and badges — including a 50-year long-service badge, an outstanding service badge, an honorary life member badge, a national medal and two awards.
He also owned and operated the Undera Hotel for more than 40 years and was active in several sporting associations.
Mr Lear is survived by his wife Norma, his brother Ron and sister-in-law Judy, daughter Sue, twin sons Peter and Jeff, sister-in-law Rhonda and grandchildren Oscar, Olivia, Jack and Teagan.
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