MORE than 550 people packed into the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre on Thursday to farewell highly respected community member and Shoalhaven City Council engineer Cliff Harris.
Mr Harris died last week after a brief battle with leukaemia.
The gathering was told Mr Harris was a gentle man with a caring soul, who would go out of his way to do anything to help people.
Celebrant Robyn Lenehan said Mr Harris was not a man who talked the talk. “He walked the walk,” she said.
His older brother Grant and younger sister Carol presented the family eulogy, saying Mr Harris loved the outdoors.
“The support we have received over the past week since Cliff’s passing has been much appreciated and it is testament to Cliff the amount of people who turned up here today,” Grant said.
“In his very active life, he came into contact with many. You would not meet a nicer bloke and someone who would always be there for you.
“Cliff was born in Nowra, he lived all his life here, and was and always will be a Nowra boy.
“He loved the South Coast and in particular the area of the Budawangs, which he called ‘God’s country’.”
That love of the bush, which he always explored around the family home, led to him being an avid bushwalker and would see him volunteer with the Shoalhaven SES Wilderness Search Group, something he did for the past decade.
Three weeks ago Mr Harris and three of his best workmates represented Shoalhaven SES in the testing annual NSW Emergency Services Wilderness Navigation Shield.
The group finished second out of 125 local, interstate and international teams.
After studying engineering at Wollongong University, he worked for a few months at Lake Macquarie Council before taking up a position at Shoalhaven Council in 1981, where he remained, working through the ranks and being involved in some of council’s biggest projects.
He also had a love of rugby league, playing for the Nowra Warriors.
Incredibly, in one season he won the best and fairest award in both first and reserve grade, a feat his older brother said he believed had never been achieved before or since.
“He gained a trial with St George in the early ’80s, a club he always had a great love of,” Grant said.
“Cliff wasn’t just a brother, son, husband, father, cousin, uncle, nephew, friend, the list could go on and on, he was just a bloody good mate. A champion bloke.”
SES personnel made a guard of honour as Mr Harris’s coffin was carried from the centre to the strains of When The Saints Go Marching In.