Thousands of people filled the Armidale School gymnasium on Friday morning to farewell the late headmaster Murray Guest, who died in a car crash late last month.
Mr Guest was the school's 13th headmaster, and its second longest-serving, at the helm of the school since 1998.
Friends and colleagues remembered him as a private man in a public position who touched many people's lives over his 21 year tenure. Board chairman Sebastian Hempel praised his brilliant mind, understanding of a regional boarding school, and vision for educating the whole person.
"He took in his stride the challenges in operating a prestigious boarding school in a regional Australian city," Mr Hempel said. "He loved his job and the school."
- Wandsworth fire threatens Ben Lomond as spot fires break out ahead of fire front
- Fire danger: New England highway closed as fire crews fight to defend homes
- Spate of warnings as fires burn out of control
- Lower Creek residents warned of approaching fire
- Why this new environmentally friendly home is fighting a battle with council
Mr Guest was most proud of making TAS fully co-educational in 2006, calling it the most significant strategic decision the school made in its history. It gave, Mr Hempel said, equal educational opportunities to girls, and allowed families, particularly boarders, to be educated together,
Mr Guest also confronted historical sexual abuse at the school, joining the National Redress Scheme and working with victims this year.
Others remembered Mr Guest's approachableness, such as his lunches with all Year Seven and Twelve students, or the insight into his charges his school reports showed. Mr Guest constantly focused on students' welfare and progress, former board chairman Andrew Murray said.
"Mr Guest really understood a great schooling experience is not about collecting awards or medals, but developing character in each individual to create a lasting sense of self-worth," senior prefect Lily Neilson said. "It cannot be underestimated how inspiring this has been for thousands of students like me. He helped to grow us into our future selves."
Murray Guest was born in Sydney in 1959, studied at Sydney Grammar School, and graduated from the University of Sydney majoring in economics with a diploma in education. He taught at Cranbrook School, St Clare's College, Waverley, and Shore School, all Sydney; Geelong Grammar; and Berkhamstead School, UK.
Ross Guest remembered his brother's enthusiasm for adventure and travel: cycling around Australia for a year, or camping and trekking through deserts, rainforests, and mountain ranges.
As a headmaster, Mr Guest ran the City2Surf and rowed the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic, often coming last accidentally on purpose so no student was behind him, Mr Hempel said.
Nearly 2800 people attended the memorial service, while 350 more watched it live-streamed. Among those present were Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Member for New England Barnaby Joyce, Armidale mayor Simon Murray, and University of New England vice-chancellor Brigid Heywood.
"The whole community is in mourning," Mr Marshall said. "Murray left a huge legacy not just here at the school, but in the wider community. He touched so many people's lives: students, staff, people in Armidale and right across the state. He was such a well-regarded educational leader and such a wonderful person... It is a big loss, and he'll be very, very difficult to replace."
The TAS Foundation has launched a scholarship in Mr Guest's honour to help a worthy student attend the school who otherwise would not be able to do so. If you would like to contribute to the Murray Guest scholarship as part of his legacy, visit www.as.edu.au.