To those who knew Wagga's James ‘Jim’ Waddell best, he was one of the “kindest”, “gentlest” souls to have touched their hearts.
A well-known and much-loved former teacher, deputy principal and priest, Father Jim peacefully passed away around 6pm on Wednesday night, taking his last breath to one of his favourite songs.
Dedicating his life to his family and the Anglican parish, the 88-year-old was described by family and friends as a “selfless” man, forever giving back.
Grandson Alexander Waddell said he grew up “admiring” his grandfather, who “kept the family together”.
“He was always supportive of us and generous with his time,” Mr Waddell said.
“He educated us though life’s experiences and challenges.”
Tragedy repeatedly touched Father Jim throughout his life, as he grieved for his only two children and his wife, left with his four grandchildren.
“Grandpa trusted in the lord and believed he would be reunited with grandma and his children,” Mr Waddell said.
“He fought on for years and had a pretty good innings.”
St John’s Anglican Church archivist Leanne Diessel was a student of Father Jim at Mount Austin Public School when she was just seven years old.
Almost 50 years on, Ms Diessel developed a great friendship with her former teacher.
“He was a special, lovely man who’ll be missed,” Ms Diessel said.
“You don’t find many teachers who you can still have a connection with as an adult.”
A public viewing will be held in St John’s Anglican Church at 11am on May 26.