CORRYONG police Sgt Paul Brady is in the business of noticing the small things.
Most days he would see Steven Kadar walk past the station on his way to work at the DSE office with a spring in his step and a blue Esky in hand.
Gradually, Sgt Brady noticed a change.
That walk to work became laboured while the walk home infused Mr Kadar’s legs with that spring Sgt Brady had come to recognise.
“What’s happened with Steven?” Sgt Brady and another of Mr Kadar’s friends mused.
Then Mr Kadar introduced them to Leah Edwards.
About 300 people at a memorial service for the fallen DSE firefighter in Corryong yesterday heard the last 12 months of Mr Kadar’s life were his happiest.
His friend Sgt Brady, family and colleagues told mourners, including Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews and member for Benambra Bill Tilley, that Mr Kadar had met the love of his life in Ms Edwards.
Mr Kadar was killed on February 13 alongside Tallandoon teenager Katie Peters, 19, as they fought the Harrietville-Alpine North fire.
Mr Kadar’s helmet and overalls were laid out on a DSE truck parked out the front of the youth hall yesterday where emergency services personnel formed a guard of honour.
Sgt Brady read a statement from Ms Edwards about the man who loved the outdoors as much as she and with who she had created a well-worn path between their homes in Corryong and Albury.
“I will forever miss the sound of Steven stomping up the front steps,” she said.
Both his family and colleagues spoke about Mr Kadar’s uncanny ability to create calm in people in demanding situations.
“His amazing sense of calm will continue to radiate,” Corryong DSE colleague Beau McKimmie said.
Cousin Wendy Poulton said people should be like Mr Kadar — quick to laugh and share a joke, slander none, be slow to anger and love nature.
“My cousin died a hero,” Ms Poulton read.
“But more importantly, he died a man we loved.”
She described a photograph taken of Mr Kadar recently.
He was sitting in the sunlight in the Corryong home he was proud of, with a beer in his hand and Ms Edwards’ head in his lap.
“Steven was happy. He had found his place,” she said.