Casino farewells Jeffery Ryan
SHOCK, silence and disbelief hung heavily in the air of a packed St Paul’s Presbyterian Church yesterday as Casino farewelled one of its favourite sons.
Hundreds turned out to pay their final respects to Jeffrey David Ryan, 48, who was mysteriously gunned down at his Tamworth property two weeks ago. The murder has baffled his devastated family and friends.
The Reverend Paul McKendrick led the service with a passionate eulogy depicting Mr Ryan’s life from a cheeky Casino kid to the ‘loving husband, father, son and all-round good mate’.
“None are more shocked than I am,” Rev McKendrick said. “But we are here to remember the great things about Jeff and the great things he has done. It’s hard to make sense of these things; we don’t know what to do; we don’t know where to turn.”
As if in response to that question, Rev McKendrick read from Ecclesiastes, A Time for Everything – a poem Mr Ryan loved to quote to his mother, Marie.
“Tragedies like this remind us that nothing is more certain than those words,” Rev McKendrick said.
Smiles broke through tears as Rev McKendrick recounted the exploits of a man in love with life. He was a talented rugby league player who toured with Peter Sterling in representative junior football, and a motorcycle-mad teenager until a serious accident put a stop to both passions.
But it was his ability to overcome such obstacles that was the mark of this popular grazier – a man with a heart of gold and a love of the land who was deeply involved in his community and always keen to share his passions, particularly with young people.
It wasn’t until Mr Ryan’s coffin was carried from the church, with a lone Akubra hat on top, that the shock seemed to sink in and the grief came.
Rev McKendrick’s words resonated then: “When we can’t make sense of it, when we can’t comprehend, we draw on our faith and we lean on each other.”
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