JACK Thomas’ funeral yesterday was a celebration of his life.
Although tears were shed, St Mary’s Catholic Church was filled more with laughter as son Neil Thomas recalled many funny memories of his father.
Someone who not only played a huge role in his life, but in countless others — as he helped to lower the death toll on Victorian roads.
The veteran cop’s work in leading the introduction of the breathalyser in the 1970s saw him honoured with a funeral complete with full police honours.
The former police chief inspector died last Thursday, aged 91.
In an emotion-charged speech, Mr Thomas told the hundreds of mourners who packed the church to pay their respects about a remarkable man.
‘‘Dad was a proud police officer with a distinguished career,’’ he said.
Neil followed in his dad’s footsteps, eventually becoming an inspector with Echuca police.
‘‘We often had a bit of banter. He was always enlightened me that he outranked me,’’ Neil joked.
‘‘He was the chief inspector and I was just inspector. He told me he was better than me, he outranked me and that was that.
‘‘And those who knew dad knew it was his way or the highway. But I can respect that because he was my father and wiser than I would ever be.’’
Jack spent his last seven years living with Neil at the Great Aussie Beer Shed.
‘‘The last time I saw him he had a huge smile on his face,’’ Neil said.
‘‘You had a great innings and a full, complete fulfilling and interesting life. I am proud to call you my father.
‘‘Thank you for the guidance and the support you gave me over the years and I hope that I have repaid you in part over the last seven years since you’ve been living with me.
‘‘It was my privilege to look after my dad in his time of need. That’s what family is all about.’’
Neil’s final words came from a recorded message he received from a local woman on the day Jack died.
‘‘A beautiful man. He had a happy, long life. Distinguished, wise and funny, held in high regard by all.’’