Coraki's John Wagner farewelled in moving tribute
THE sadness and devastation written on the faces of hundreds of people were testament to the character of John 'Wags' Wagner.
The life of the 63-year-old Coraki resident, who touched the hearts of thousands of people from Grafton to the Tweed, was celebrated this morning at Goonellabah's Parkview Funeral Home.
Hundreds of mourners filled the chapel and driveway to pay tribute to the husband, father, grandfather, workmate and friend who was tragically killed in a crash on the Pacific Highway on October 17.
Both Broadwater and Condong sugar mills closed so many long-time friends and workmates could pay their respects.
Mr Wagner's son Anthony told mourners about how his father met his mother, Wendy, when he was 21, and picked her up in his V8 Holden panel van.
"To some he was known as John, Wags, Nonno or just a cranky old bugger," he said.
"He was a hard, fair man, and I'm sure Sarah, Emma and I couldn't have asked for a better father.
"Dad had five grandchildren who he absolutely adored and could not get enough of them."
The impending birth of his sixth grandchild next year was something Mr Wagner was looking forward to.
"Dad had many friends from Grafton to the border," Anthony said.
Apart from family, Anthony said his father was passionate about his cattle.
"His other love was his cows; he gave one each to his grandchildren," he said.
Mourners were asked to reflect on their association with Mr Wagner as family and friends said their goodbyes, while Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence and Eric Clapton's Tears in Heaven played.
As a tribute to Mr Wagner and his workmates, a verse called The Truckers Lament was read.
It talked about a trucker's journey home, to 'heaven' after a day on the road.
Family then said their last goodbyes as John Williamson's song Flower on the Water played.
"Let his influence, his character, his warmth and his deeds live on, especially in the lives of his children and grandchildren," mourners were told.
Following the moving service, friends and family shared memories and happy times they spent with Mr Wagner at Goonellabah's Lismore Workers Sports Club.
Mr Wagner is survived by his wife Wendy, children Sarah, Emma and Anthony, and his grandchildren Ava, Kayla, Lily, Koby and Jada.