ABOUT 1200 people yesterday honoured Barb Sartori, a woman who touched so many lives.
They gathered under shady trees in the King Valley to remember a woman described as the soul of Whitfield,
Family, lifelong friends, new friends and some who had met her only briefly, were united in grief and disbelief.
Mrs Sartori, 52, the devoted wife and mother of four, died in a fire at Whitfield’s 110-year-old general store nearly two weeks ago.
Mrs Sartori, one of the Three Nonnas who held cooking sessions as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, dreamed of turning her new store into a showcase of the region’s finest food and wine.
Father John Corcoran, of St Joseph’s Cobram, who married Mrs Sartori and husband, Walter, 30 years ago, led the celebration of her life.
It was held in the gardens of the Sartoris’ Cucina where the couple often had breakfast.
Father Corcoran said Mr Sartori had described it as “Barb’s church.”
He read a passage from one of Mrs Sartori’s many journals that spoke of having the courage to take risks and follow your dreams.
Son Steven, on behalf of his siblings, Michael, Neva and Brianna, described his mother as “someone who believed she could do anything — and did”.
“Mum always taught us there are no certainties in life and we would be stronger for the challenges,” he said.
“She taught us nothing was impossible or too difficult — we saw the impossible become the possible with mum.”
Tina Thompson, who wore one of Mrs Sartori’s many aprons, described her as a “glorious woman, devoted wife, mother and grandmother, cook, farmer and friend.”
“Barb loved people, especially young people and loved to nurture their potential,” she said.
“She had the capacity to give to everyone and expected nothing back.”
She said lasagnes and pies were dropped off to those who were down on their luck and she was someone who could make things happen.
“She belonged to many organisations and if you wanted alpacas shorn she could organise that,” she said.
“Barb meant something special and her capacity for friendship was outstanding.”
“She was someone to could count. She had friends across the region, Australia and the world.”
Mrs Thompson recalled how often more than 40 families would enjoy gnocchi and salami-making days at the Cucina.
She also recalled lighter moments, saying how the passionate cook enjoyed a glass of prosecco while standing in the King River.
The grandmother of three, Charlotte, Victoria and Callum, was also honoured by the children whose lives she touched.
More than 30 children placed flowers in her honour. To the song Isn’t She Lovely, Mrs Sartori’s coffin was escorted by family and friends to the gate amid a setting she often described as the best place on earth.