Funny, respected rugby 'legend' lovingly remembered
PAUL De Fina would email hilarious jokes out of nowhere just to give friends a good start to their day.
The much-loved town planner and former president of Bangalow Rugby has been remembered as a funny man "who attracted people around him like moths to a globe”.
He was a respected community figure, and a Bangalow Rebels life member and all-round Bangalow rugby legend, who lost his battle with cancer at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane on Tuesday afternoon.
Bangalow Rugby said Paul's love of the club was only surpassed by the club's love for him.
"His legacy will live on forever as the founding president of the junior club and distinct laughter/chuckle/joyous grunts (however you describe it) will be forever missed but not forgotten,” the club said on Facebook.
As a family man, he leaves behind two beloved sons, Matthew and Sam, and former wife Dee.
Friend Alli Page described Paul as "a man who forged close friendships with dear friends lasting many decades”.
"He was an intelligent man, a respected town planner who was committed to following through the vision of his clients with a passion, and fought fiercely on their behalf with councils and governments alike,” Ms Page said.
Paul was known for many things, including his love of food and wine, his entertaining jokes which would crack up Bangalow Hotel patrons and perhaps most notably, his love and passion for rugby and his role as a "great mentor” for young players, who called him "Paulie”.
"He fostered a very strong foundation of sportsmanship and camaraderie among players from a young age,” friend Debbie Milgate said.
"He always had time for the parents and was keen to hear what they were doing once they had left Bangalow Rugby.
"I also enjoyed the cheeky side of Paul, or PdF as I called him, and never quite knew what I'd have in the inbox when he'd share a joke with me, but as I would read them, I could hear his funny chuckle at the other end.
"His passing is a big loss to all.”
Fellow life member of Bangalow Rugby, David Phillips, said Paul credited rugby with keeping him on the right track when he was a youth in Sydney.
"That experience instilled in him a lifelong commitment to the game and a desire to give something back, especially to junior rugby,” Mr Phillips said.
"He was instrumental in establishing the Bangalow junior rugby club, coached teams, served on the committee and as president.
"He even bore a striking resemblance to Santa who would come to every junior rugby Christmas party.
"He gave the same whole hearted, good humoured commitment to the Bangalow community, supporting many community causes.
"He was one of only three life members of the Bangalow Rugby Club. The club and the community will miss him greatly.”