Warrnambool will farewell one of its well-known sons next week, celebrating the 78 years Pat Gleeson spent living life to the fullest.
For more than three decades he ran one of the city's car dealerships on Raglan Parade, and even after he retired his family says he never forgot a face - and could probably tell you what car they drove and when he sold it to them.
Pat was born on February 22, 1943 and grew up on a farm at Cooramook before moving to Port Fairy.
He played football for Grassmere - where he won the best and fairest for the Warrnambool and District Football League and the Grassmere Football Club and the goalkicking in 1972.
He also played for Port Fairy and South Warrnambool, and was a member of the Geelong Football Club holding the same seats since 2005.
He met his wife Helen at a local dance and they married 55 years ago and had four children - daughters Marcelle and Carina and sons Brendan and Kristen.
Pat started his working career doing herd testing and AI before he began selling tyres. He worked for a decade as a sales manager for Callaghan Motors before going out on his own.
His dealership initially sold Datsun cars, International trucks, tractors and farm machinery before he moved into Nissan and Kias. "He was well respected in the car industry, among dealers all over the country," Helen said.
News of his passing last Thursday prompted a flood of calls from former staff, his family said.
Upon retirement in 2007, the couple hit the road, travelling across Australia, but Helen said it was always his ambition to go to the moon.
"If we went to Queensland he had to go on the newest ride at Dreamworld. He'd climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. He was very adventurous," she said.
Brendan said it didn't matter where you went, his dad would always bump into someone he knew. "He was warm, welcoming, caring, funny and enjoyed a good time. It didn't matter whether you were 30, 60 or 90, he had time for everyone and he was interested in everything they had to say," he said.
Pat was the kind to always have a project on the go, whether it was around the house or a car. He'd even recently bought back one of only two Daihatsu Pyzars he'd sold with the aim of fixing it up for his grandchildren to learn to drive a manual in.
He served on a lot of voluntary committees and was involved in motoring museums, vintage displays, speedway and the Rotary hole-in-one. He was a founding member of the Warrnambool Seahawks and an instigator of the ACME field days.
He served on the golf club committee for many years and was instrumental in getting the water from Nestle factory to the course in the 1990s.
Pat would also donate the support vehicles for the Murray to Moyne event, and Helen said if anyone needed to go to hospital in Melbourne and was having car trouble, Pat would just lend them one off the lot. He was also a founding organiser for Wunta. "We were the first ones to give away a car for Wunta," Brendan said.
About two months ago he was diagnosed with cancer in his lung, news that made him determined to fight but also gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his friends.
He passed away surrounded by family while in recovery after an operation. "He had 78 years of living life to the absolute fullest," Brendan said.
The funeral will be held next Wednesday at St Josephs Church at midday. "He was very well known and respected by many. It will be an incredible send off," Brendan said.
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