Tributes flow: ‘Gazza was one of a kind’
LOOKING back fondly on a life well lived, a Bundaberg character with a heart as good as gold has been remembered for how he made others feel.
Partner, father-of-two, grandfather and former NewsMail employee Gary Thompson passed away last week.
Gary, 76, was the picture of health up until he received his cancer diagnosis just nine weeks ago.
And despite it being a rapidly growing and aggressive cancer, his son Grant said he was the same old Gary he always was - the happy-go-lucky joker that everyone knew and loved.
"He was a real family man and a great worker - you ask anyone and they'll tell you he kept morale up with his happy and bright attitude … he was always chirpy, nothing got him down and he was a bit of a joker," Grant said.
"Everyone respected him and he was the same right up until last Tuesday … all the nurses loved him and a lot of them cried when he passed."
Leaving behind his partner Di, two children Yvonne and Grant, daughter-in-law Lesley and one grandchild Sophie, you only have to hear loved ones talk about the man Gary was to recognise he was one of a kind.
One of seven children, Gary along with two of his brothers were passionate about news and spent their lives working for the industry.
A machinist by trade, Gary would work a lino type machine as a compositor, putting the newspaper together.
Starting out at just 15-years-old, Gary worked for the Toowoomba Chronicle, then moved to the Gladstone Observer and The Morning Bulletin at Rockhampton, before finding his home at the Bundaberg NewsMail in 1975.
He retired at the NewsMail 16 years ago on his 60th birthday and enjoyed the recent years cruising around in his motorhome.
Supervisor at the time Ian Ward said Gary was a valued member of the NewsMail family for many years and touched the lives of many.
"Gazza was this larger than life character, who was infectious, personable and he had this real humorous side but he was also such a genuine person which is why we became lifelong friends," Ian said.
"Gary was a great example of newspapers because he was passionate about our community and the people who live in it … NewsMail is a family and that's what Gary instilled in the place.
"He was that perfect ingredient in a workplace because he actually made you want to go to work each day, but he brought more than work ethic with him, he brought mateship and he didn't disrupt the work environment with his personality - he enhanced it and the joy he brought motivated people to work that little bit harder."
After visiting him over the last two weeks, Ian said Gary wasn't thinking of himself but was instead so humbled and full of gratitude for the people who had been there for him.
"Gary thought larger than himself because he was here for a greater purpose and for that, he will always be remembered and throughout the years I worked at NewsMail or in the industry, I never met anyone else like him," Ian said.
"It's a really sad time for those who knew Gary but his funeral will be just be a great celebration of his life because that's what he deserves."
Making a difference to the lives of many, Gary's funeral service which will be held today, is at full capacity with 100 attendees, the maximum allocated number in-line with the current health guidelines.