Shepparton man John Coghlan will be remembered for his huge contribution to football and education but more importantly as a man of compassion.
‘‘Family and people were attracted to Dad and we love him for that. He kept in contact with all family and friends and attempted to make everyone feel special and important,’’ daughter Natalie said.
‘‘That was a special trait. He leaves big shoes to fill.’’
John died in his sleep at his home on Monday after a battle with an aggressive skin cancer — he died just short of turning 70 on Sunday.
He was born in Port Melbourne in 1946, and it’s in the working suburb where he met the love of his life Frances who stayed by his side for 52 years.
They started a family in Wonthaggi and then moved to Warragul before finding their home in Shepparton.
In Shepparton he was best known for his association with the Shepparton/Lemnos Swans Football Netball Club and the Goulburn Valley Football League and as a senior manager at Goulburn Ovens Institute of Tafe.
He was a talented footballer playing two games for South Melbourne and notably played alongside Brownlow medallist Peter Bedford.
‘‘He would often joke he taught Peter Bedford everything he knew,’’ Frances said.
‘‘When we settled in Shepparton in the 1980s he said the team he would join had to be red and white and be the underdog.’’
John is a life member of the Shepparton Swans and he has held every administration position possible there and was involved in coaching the junior teams. He saw all his sons play for the club.
He was a part of the Goulburn Murray Football League board for many years and was the president in 2008 where he managed to return the association into a good financial position.
His passion for local football saw him become a regular contributor to GV Weekender writing countless articles for the publication. John was a keen historian and did a history of the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine and has compiled a detailed history of the Lemnos/ Shepparton Swans Football Club.
Fellow educator at GoTafe Jim Pascal said John was instrumental in ensuring high quality Tafe education was available not just in Shepparton but the Goulburn Valley.
‘‘He was there from the start when it was known E.T Jackson College of TAFE and saw it through its many transformations,’’ Mr Pascal said.
‘‘John was highly respected by all staff and had a knockabout type of personality. He was a man of great integrity and vision, he was very much a relationship person.
‘‘The term mateship is widely used but when it comes to John Coghlan he was the epitomised it — a loveable larrikin he had a big stature but also a big heart.’’
Fellow Shepparton Swans life member Geoff Cobbledick said his managerial skills and ability to form relationships made him a valuable member of the community.
‘‘His leadership skills that saw him gravitate to those kind of positions,’’ he said.
‘‘He was working for Swans till the very end the club won’t ever replace him.’’
John was also known for his role in starting Shepparton’s Ethnic Council and teaching English classes for migrants.
He is survived by wife Frances and children Natalie, Derek, Jason, Sharon, Adam and 15 grandchildren.
A funeral service is at 1pm today at St Brendan’s Catholic Church for family and friends.