The Wimmera has united to honour the life of Gary Bird - a community champion, a sporting icon, but most of all, a devoted family man.
Mr Bird was a local legend, remembered by those closest to him as a 'larger than life' man with a big heart.
Tributes have poured in following Gary Bird's peaceful passing on Saturday, after an eight-month battle with cancer.
Rebecca McIntyre said her father's life revolved around three key things; family, sports and the community.
"I think that other than the love of the community and sport, there was his family," she said.
"They were the three things in his life. His family and the fact that he dedicated his life to sport and the community."
It would be hard to list just how many achievements Gary Bird made in his life, how many clubs and committees he was involved in, how many people he affected.
Mr Bird truly lived for the community.
Originally a crane operator, he served on an estimated 53 committees in his life, including a stint as a councillor.
After moving to Horsham in 1972, he threw himself into the community.
His daughters, Sammy and Rebecca, remember a 20 minute trip to the supermarket turning into an hour as he would stop and speak to everyone he saw.
"He'd drive you insane if you went to the supermarket with him because everyone in the shops stopped for a chat," she said.
"We would be in the car tooting the horn waiting for him to come out.
"We were really lucky to have him in our lives."
During his time on council, he served a term as mayor, helping Horsham grow, despite the challenges of the Millenium drought.
Mr Bird oversaw the creation of the Wimmera-Mallee pipeline, a key milestone in the provision of water across the Wimmera.
The Iluka mineral sands mine was also established.
Mr Bird delivered the Wimmera its largest concert ever, with The Spirit of the Bush drawing in 20,000 people and Lee Kernaghan to Longerenong in the name of drought relief.
Mr Kernaghan has since taken the concert across the country to other drought-stricken places in Australia.
Sporting was a particular area of interest for Gary Bird, advocating for the construction of the skate park and upgrades to lighting at City Oval.
Former Horsham Rural City Council mayor Mark Radford spent one year with Mr Bird on the council and described him as a "big man with a big heart".
"Gary was a great advocate for Horsham. Good personality, friendly fella, and I've got nothing but good words to say for Gary Bird," he said.
"I will say, when I first came on council, I was a bit daunted by having to sit next to Gary, I wasn't sure what to expect, but we became great friends. He was a big man and had a big heart.
"His fingerprints were left throughout our municipality."
Fellow former councillor David Grimble said Mr Bird had a "larger than life" character.
"I enjoyed working with him. He was a strong councillor," he said.
"He demanded attention when he spoke. He was larger than life, a good fella, and a character in his own right. The people that knew him would understand those qualities he had.
"When things needed to be taken seriously, he could do that, but he never ever lost the sight of enjoying himself along the way.
"That was one of his attributes. He could always see the good things in life."
Outside his stint as a councillor, sport had always been the most prevalent part of Mr Bird's life.
"Sport is my life," he would say.
Almost every sporting club in the Wimmera would have a story about Gary Bird, with his influence spreading across cricket, football, basketball and netball.
As a young man, Mr Bird found his passion for cricket, playing for Jung, Quantong, St Michaels, Gymbowen and Blackheath, where he spent 15 years and won several premierships.
Fellow Horsham Cricket Association life member Tony Wills remembers playing against Gary Bird in their younger years.
He said Mr Bird was larger than life, even as a young man.
"His assistance to the cricket association was immense," he said.
"He was always sports-oriented and always tried to make sure if anything was available for sporting, especially cricket, he would always give us 110 per cent.
"It is hard to put it into words. What you saw was all this bravado that came out, always cutting off the sleeves on his shirts. How he ever got into a suit for mayoral duties amazed me.
"Underneath that facade was a heart of gold, because he really loved his community and really loved his sporting community."
Mr Bird also served as the Horsham United football club president for a period, with the club seeing some great years at his helm.
Former president and committee member during Gary Bird's tenure, Peter Miller said Mr Bird brought his council skills to the role and uplifted the team.
"He was iconic really. I think that was the best word to describe him," he said.
"We were a good, strong club then and there's no doubt that he attracted people to the committee and made our team strong because of it."
Mr Miller said Mr Bird's greatest strength was his charismatic leadership.
"I think the thing I remember most about him was his speech making abilities. He could get up and make a speech and I never saw a note of paper in front of him," he said.
"He could talk about whatever subject it was, reel off figures, and it would all be in his head. He would have it figured out.
"I think that was the most memorable when we would play the ANZAC day games against the Horsham Saints.
"He would go into the clubrooms before the game to talk to the players about what they were playing for, what the ANZAC day game meant, and he'd reel off stats about who died on what dates.
"He could talk for half an hour and have not one sheet of paper in front of him."
Full of life and with a matter-of-fact attitude was how Mr Miller remembered his friend Gary Bird.
"I remember he ran into me in the supermarket and told me he was dying, that he had an aggressive cancer and there's nothing they could do about it," he said.
"He told me just as matter-of-factly as he might have told me about a fishing trip he went on.
"He always told things like they were. He didn't side step anything, he just told it like it was."
One of his most enduring and noteworthy pursuits came within basketball, where he created a Victoria Country team for people with an intellectual disability in the late 1990s.
Mr Bird conjured the idea at a national tournament, where he saw a Victoria Metro team, but nothing offered for people from country areas.
For taking the initiative and creating a side that still exists today, Basketball Victoria Country later created the annual Gary Bird award for outstanding contribution to diversity and inclusion.
Mr Bird's legacy lives on in the community through the various people he affected and his children and grandchildren.
Such was his affection for family, sports and community, on the day of his passing, Mr Bird made one final trip to the netball courts to watch his granddaughter Harmony play.
Mrs McIntyre said after watching one final game, Mr Bird returned home and passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones.
"The hospital and palliative care team allowed him to come home and that was something that we will never forget," she said.
"It was really nice that we could all have that and that we were all there with him and he left the world surrounded by the people he loved the most."
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