HUNDREDS gathered at Dower Park on Wednesday to honour Australian sporting legend John Forbes OAM.
Speakers including a former Australian cricketer and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner paid tribute to Mr Forbes' selflessness and warmth of character.
Mr Forbes, who died last week, was a former sponsorship manager for Puma, whose collection of sporting memorabilia formed the basis of the Rochester Sports Museum's collection.
At his death he was remembered as a loyal friend, a huge support to young athletes and a great Australian.
Mr Forbes' youngest son Peter spoke lovingly of his father, remembering his innate understanding of people and ability to effortlessly develop a rapport with anyone, anywhere.
Peter said his father was the last baby born at the local hospital, saying he loved Mitiamo and Mitiamo loved him.
He recalled Mr Forbes teaching him and brother David to shoot, skin rabbits, ride the ute, mend fences and muster sheep. He recalled driving country roads with his father and brother, one son changing gears.
"Despite the many adventures elsewhere, his heart was like a compass needle - it was always stuck true north, to Mitty," Peter said.
Peter described his father as meeting the love of his life, Faye, at a dance at the Shamrock Hotel aged 21, marrying six weeks later.
He joked his father was like a home entertainment system for his sons - a talented illustrator, with encyclopedic knowledge, and a human jukebox. He said Mr Forbes had a wicked sense of humour, and was an extraordinary storyteller.
Old friend Ken Hynes remembered Mr Forbes playing for the Mitiamo Football Netball Club in his early 20s, saying he never lost touch with his love for the club.
Mr Hynes recalled Mr Forbes bringing the greats of Australian sport to the Mitiamo club's fundraisers, in a town of just a few hundred.
He said people gravitated naturally towards Mr Forbes, drawn by his big smile and warm disposition.
"Forbesy just loved to bring the sporting elite to mix with country community people. He felt a personal connection with every sports person and every human being he ever met," he said.
"The Mitiamo Football Netball Club, we are going to miss you so deeply."
Mr Hynes said Mr Forbes' role as the Loddon Valley Football Netball Leaguepress correspondent led to great improvement in the coverage of sport in the region.
He recalled Mr Forbes calling Bendigo Football League matches on radio, and conducting a Saturday morning sports shows.
Mr Hynes also paid tribute to Mr Forbes' still-living wife Faye, saying he couldn't have done what he did without her support.
Former Australian cricketer Darren Berry thanked Mr Forbes for taking himself and other young sportspeople under his wing, saying he always cared for them whatever the circumstances. He described Mr Forbes as like a second father to himself.
Mr Berry said Mr Forbes was the most selfless and giving man he had ever met, saying it was hard to put into words the effect he had.
He remembered handwritten letters in good times and bad, saying Mr Forbes was always caring for someone else.
"Thank you for your unconditional support and friendship, thank you for always picking us up when we were down," Mr Berry said.
"You were one in a million, and all of us here today are better for having known you.
"We are here today to thank you for just being you, a trusted loyal friend who we all knew we could rely on."
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton spoke about the debt the organisation owed to Mr Forbes, for establishing the Blue Ribbon Foundation.
Funds he raised in the wake of the Tynan and Eyre murders went to supporting police officers, the organisation behind which later became the foundation.
"It says everything about the man John, that while this tragedy was devastating to the whole community, it motivated John to take action," Mr Patton said.
MOURNERS are paying tribute to an Australian sporting legend John Forbes OAM, at a Kangaroo Flat memorial service.
Mr Forbes died last week, aged 79. He was remembered as a loyal friend, a family man, and someone who worked endlessly for the good of the community.
Family and friends assembled on Wednesday afternoon for a memorial service, which is also being livestreamed.
In his 22 years as a sponsorship manager for Puma Mr Forbes mixed with some of the world's top athletes.He was also instrumental in setting up the Blue Ribbon Foundation, also supporting public hospitals.
Mr Forbes amassed a huge collection of sporting memorabilia, which forms the basis of the Rochester Sports' Museum's collection.
To view a livestream of Mr Forbes' farewell, visit: mulqueen.com.au/livestream/
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