Detective Senior Constable John Norris was one-of-a-kind, according to his good mate and former colleague Colin Ryan.
The two worked side-by-side at the Warrnambool Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) for 13 years.
Mr Norris' passing after a stroke on April 4 will leave a big gap in the heart of Mr Ryan's and many others.
"I worked with John for 13 years - he arrived at the Warrnambool CIB in July 1978 and retired in 2003," he said.
Mr Ryan said his mate's empathy saw him create life-long bonds with not only victims, but offenders he tried to help.
"He was a great people person who had a lovely nature," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said his former colleague was humble about his efforts in helping victims secure justice. This included putting paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale behind bars. "He was solely responsible for putting the brief together that secured the conviction against Ridsdale," Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said Mr Norris' investigation began with one victim, but by the time he submitted his brief, he had spoken to 15. "What John's efforts did was enable all those other victims to come forward," he said. However, Mr Norris never sought any recognition for his efforts.
"He was a humble man - he never sought any type of recognition or praise for what he had done," he said.
Fred Hughson also worked with Mr Norris at the Warrnambool CIB for about 25 years. He described his former colleague as a "people's person". "He had a great rapport with the public," Mr Hughson said. "He didn't have too many enemies, that's for sure."
The two work colleagues became great mates, often chasing snapper or gummy sharks off Warrnambool together.
Mr Hughson said Mr Norris was always in a good mood. "His workmates loved him," he said.
Mr Norris is survived by his wife Gail, children Janie, Aaron and Mark (deceased) and step-children Travis, Carly and Dayna. He will be laid to rest at Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Koroit on Saturday at 10.30am.
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