Generous aviator farewelled
IAN Rex Byrne was a man who conquered more than just the sea and sky.
The highly respected pilot, teacher, commanding officer, surf life saver and family man was farewelled at a funeral service at St Mary's Anglican Church in Ballina yesterday.
A wide cross-section of community spoke about his tireless dedication to family, teaching, aviation, surf lifesaving, history, the military and golf.
Daughter Cathy described him as the "wing man" for the Byrne family, whose desire to serve often exceeded his ability to say no.
Tom Harwood from 41st Battalion Lismore spoke about Mr Byrne's three decades of military service as a citizen soldier, beginning with cadets at Murwillumbah High School in 1956.
In 1971 he joined the 41st Battalion eventually becoming the commanding officer.
"We assemble with Fran and her family to mourn the loss of Lieutenant Colonel Ian Byrne, the former commanding officer of the 41st Battalion and to applaud and honour his service," Mr Harwood said.
Wilson Cregan from Ballina Surf Life Saving spoke about Mr Byrne's involvement as a competitor, administrator, instructor, examiner and club captain.
"A fine swimmer, a whole-hearted volunteer, a lifesaver, and a gentleman. He is missed and will be missed," he said.
Former Ballina High School principal Ros Mayberry spoke about Mr Byrne's teaching achievements during his 30-year career.
"Ian was an enthusiastic, dedicated and highly respected teacher," she said.
Ballina Aero Club president Gary Faulks spoke about Mr Byrne's passion.
"We all have numerous stories, memories about Ian, that we can value," he said.
"I appreciate the privilege to have been a small part of his journey."
Graham Ellis from Ballina Golf Club thanked Mr Byrne for his friendship, "but we also thank him for his contribution to everything else in our community".
Evans Head Aviation Museum president Rod Kinnish said Mr Byrne was integral to the museum team.
"We thank you for the valuable part of your life you have shared with us, your insights, your wisdom, your humour and your friendship," he said.
"We will miss you greatly, but we will never forget you."
Mr Byrne was farewelled with a 41st Battalion guard of honour.