IF THE mark of a man is how many lives he touched, or how many people he selflessly helped, Thomas 'Des' Fairfull earned legendary status in his 77 years.
Lismore's St Andrews Anglican Church was filled with mourners yesterday celebrating the life of the popular husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, colleague and mate to many.
Three fire engines formed a guard of honour at the entrance to the church as a mark of respect for the fire fighter of 46 years, and former Lismore brigade captain of almost 22 years.
Born at the Dongrayal hospital in Lismore in 1935, Des, as he was known, grew up on a dairy farm at Numulgi where he worked after his school years until he fulfilled his national service commitments in 1954.
1957 was a big year for Des, meeting and marrying the love of his life, Glenna Braid, and purchasing the Lismore milk run which he operated seven days a week until 1974.
After joining the NSW Fire Brigade in 1959, Des rose through the ranks while gaining a strong interest in the competition and training side of fire fighting, until he was appointed Lismore Brigade Captain in 1983.
Good family friend Jim Roder read out a poem written by Des, a well known practical joker, at the funeral.
"Des loved a joke, a yarn and a beer or two," he said choking back tears.
NSW Fire and Rescue Superintendent Chris Ball detailed how in 2006 Des was awarded the service's highest honour, The Australian Fire Services Medal.
Des' daughter Louise and son Peter spoke of a loving father who was a passionate and patient man.
"Dad was the kind of person who never missed an opportunity to help someone in need," Louise said.
Thomas 'Des' Fairfull is survived by his wife Glenna, daughter Louise, sons Peter and Paul, and his six grandchildren.