THE man who could lay claim to being "Mr Wangaratta" – Bill O'Callaghan – has died a week short of his 90th birthday.
Tributes have begun to flow for Mr O'Callaghan, whose biggest imprint on the Wangaratta community was in education beginning as a student teacher at Chisholm Street state school to more than two decades at Wangaratta High School before rounding out his teaching career at Galen College.
But his reach into the community was far deeper with involvement in community groups including the historical society, St Vincent de Paul Society and St Patrick's Catholic parish.
He had a love of sport that culminated in the naming of Bill O'Callaghan Oval near the Barr Reserve.
He was also a prolific writer with one of his six books, The Wangaratta Story, published in 2009.
One of his students at Wangaratta High School, Irene Grant, is a former mayor and current administrator of the city.
She said Mr O'Callaghan's love of the local community was difficult to match.
"He was a real peoples’ person and really saw the value of people in the community," Mrs Grant said.
"He was involved in a whole raft of organisations.
"It is hard to pinpoint Bill's greatest legacy, but one of his great legacies was he collected information on the people who made up the fabric of the Wangaratta community.
"That information can sometimes be lost, but he managed to put that together in the articles and books he wrote."
Mr O'Callaghan also had two stints on Wangaratta Council between 1966 to 1973 including a stint as mayor and 1983 to 1986.
In 2009, he was named as one of Wangaratta's 50 icons.
He was born in Shepparton with he and his wife Lesley celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary last year.
They have six children, Kerri (deceased), Jenny, John, Peter, Adrian and Catherine.
John O'Callaghan is a magistrate at Wangaratta Court.
Mr O'Callaghan's funeral will be held at the St Patrick's church on Thursday at 2pm.
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