Those were the words used by family and friends in tribute to Col John ‘Dickie’ Bird after the 88-year-old died at his Bilsborrow home on Monday morning.
The grandfather and dad-of-three had been battling prostate cancer.
Col Bird served in the armed forces for 50 years, travelling extensively throughout the world during his career.
And it was during his travels that he met his wife Berenice at Canberra Aero Club in Australia.
“Throughout our lives, we’d both travelled the world but in completely different places,” she said. “We planned to travel the bits we’d missed together, but sadly we ran out of time.
“I’ll miss everything about him. He was a real man’s man and had so many friends across the world. He was well respected by all he’d worked with and I’ve had very tender messages from some big burly army men since he passed away.”
Myerscough and Bilsborrow Parish Council also paid tribute Col Bird.
A spokesman said: “Col Bird gave distinguished service to the community throughout the 35 years or so he lived in Bilsborrow Village. Until his retirement in 2007 he was chairman of the parish council and was chairman of the trustees of the Barton, Bilsborrow and Myerscough War Memorial until the end of his life. He led the seamless amalgamation of the previously separate civic parishes of Myerscough and Bilsborrow and firmly believed in the value of parish councils as an important first link and sounding board in local affairs. He was the parish’s representative on the Lancashire Association of Local Councils. Col Bird’s leadership, wisdom and companionship will be greatly missed.”
Former servicemen also paid tribute. Neil Whittaker wrote on the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment Facebook: “He was our regimental secretary for many years. He had been a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire also and a man who contributed massively to our regimental associations. A true regimental officer that will be sadly missed.”
Martin Cassell, from Preston Cecilian Choral Society, of which John and his wife were long-serving members, said: “ To those of us who knew him, Dickie had been not just a member, but the life and soul of the Cecilians, seemingly for ever, joining in the early 1990s with his first wife Ruth.
“Always completely engaged in whatever facet of the choir’s life, always enthusiastic and always cheerful, Dickie blended modestly into the chorus but would lend a touch of his parade ground authority where it helped – he was notably effective at calling a noisy rehearsal to order to announce raffle prizes –, and served the choir energetically as a committee member from 1994 and later for many years as its press and publicity officer. His warmth, hospitality and companionship will be fondly remembered.”