Murray McCooke summoned all the love and strength in his heart for one last dance with his beloved wife Therese at their daughter Sharnie's wedding four days before he passed away.
Generous to the end, Murray gifted his family and friends a memory they will cherish forever, mourners were told at his funeral on Wednesday.
Hundreds gathered for the service at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish Catholic Church, Thurgoona to farewell the well-known and respected former footballer, soldier, businessman, farmer and mate.
A guard of honour, with safe social distancing, was formed along Union Road on the way to his final resting place at Glenmorus Gardens, Albury.
But it was the enduring love for his family during 50 years of marriage to Therese, children Tierre, Troy, Carla, Kinta and Sharnie and 12 grandchildren, that will be Murray McCooke's lasting legacy on this earth.
He was surrounded by their loving embrace when he passed away at home on June 10, 2020 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
In death, as in life, he showed courage, dignity, incredible strength and determination.
Murray was such a meticulous keeper of records that his eulogy was really the only job he gave his family the "creative licence" on to honour his memory.
Murray John McCooke was born at Corowa Hospital on August, 7, 1947, the youngest child of Dave and Joan McCooke.
His birth was welcomed by sister Carole and brother David and his love of the land was first cultivated during life on the family farm, Angleside, at Balldale.
He didn't love school but apparently loved English and often told his children tall tales of riding five miles to get to school in the pouring rain or 60-degree heat.
He'd meet up with his mate Jim Everitt, who lived at the neighbouring property, and the pair would ride and park their bikes behind the Balldale Post Office before catching the bus to Howlong Primary School and then Corowa High School.
Even in those early days Murray was developing what one might call, for want of a better word, his business acumen when he stole a box of chocolate twin sticks from the corner store and sold them off to all the passengers on the bus.
He was even happy to take IOUs until the owner of the shop contacted the school principal and dobbed him in.
The story goes that the principal advised his mum Joan and she met her son at the bus stop to advise him he would be working at the corner store, sweeping the floor and breaking up biscuits to pay off his debt.
Those heady childhood days saw lifelong friendship develop with Jim and George Wilson and mischievous times with Don Anderson, his brother David, Kevin Knight and Joe Anderson "until girls got in the way".
He grew into a talented footballer, playing for Corowa and then the Tallangatta and Hume leagues and was even asked to train with Richmond.
But the arrival of the mail on June 8, 1967 would change the course of Murray's life forever - his number had come up.
Murray's position as a Lance Corporal in Signals Corp was to deliver top-secret and highly classified information to high ranking officials and those hidden in the jungle.
His high-security clearance paved the way for a few high jinks, including a dubious SP bookie operation, but mostly Vietnam was to leave permanent scars on Murray's mind and body.
So many of those experiences were to haunt Murray long after his return home; he spent decades battling the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and his exposure to Agent Orange left him with monstrous rashes, melanoma and lymphoma.
When he arrived home from the war, his family collected him at Albury airport, not a word was said and by lunch time he was back on a tractor ploughing a paddock.
Despite the backlash towards those returned soldiers from Vietnam, Murray was a proud supporter of Anzac Day and he instilled that pride in his own family who cheered their father on in the march down Dean Street to the Monument every year.
Later Murray would recite the Ode at the annual North Albury/Albury Anzac Day football games and in 2014, following a long battle with cancer and stem cell transplant, his mother Joan watched her boy march for the very first time.
Dad's illness brought us all back together, it healed our hearts in more ways than we can articulate ... to find immense love Dad had for us and we have for each other.Tierre (McCooke)
"With a deep knowing that this year may have been Dad's final one, we all returned home to watch him proudly recite the ODE on a candelit driveway with Mum by his side," his daughters wrote.
"Dad's illness brought us all back together, it healed our hearts in more ways than we can articulate, it allowed us to feel deep and remember who we truly are ... to find immense love Dad had for us and we have for each other.
"Interestingly, without COVID-19, we would not have had this time together, watching the bond and immense love between Mum and Dad that has been so beautiful to witness."
There was only ever one girl for Murray - a stylish country lass with a huge heart and "beautiful brown eyes" who stole his heart.
The pair met at Mick and Judy O'Callaghan's wedding after the two mates returned from Vietnam.
Murray was smitten and a whirlwind romance ensued followed by their own wedding at Sacred Heart Church, Albury on March 27, 1971.
Through the trials and triumphs of saving for their first home at Lavington through to a 21-year poker machine business, farming and family life - often under the shadow of those war-time nightmares - Murray and Therese's devotion to each other prevailed.
As their daughter Carla wrote, "Love trumps every time."