John "Bronc" Jones, a rugby league champion known to the Riverina as "the legend", has died aged 84.
The Gundagai man was an icon of the Group 9 competition who will be remembered by his family as a loving husband and adored great-grandfather.
Jill, his wife of 56 years, thinks her late husband's funeral could be one of the biggest Gundagai has ever seen.
"He will be very, very greatly missed. Just because of his nature. He was a bit of a larrikin and had fun with everybody. Gundagai meant everything to him," Jill said.
"When Bronc was in the hospital a young girl came in there and said, 'Oh my God. Wait until I tell my boyfriend I'm treating the legend'.
"I really can't believe it, being in our lovely home and not having my husband there. We just were good mates. And I haven't got him."
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Bronc played at both country first-grade and state level after beginning his career in 1953 with the Gundagai Tigers, a club that will celebrate its 100th birthday this year.
After stints playing for Tumut and North Sydney, Bronc came home and in 1963 coached the Tigers to a first-grade premiership victory and a Maher Cup.
His nephew, and Tigers colleague, Martin Hay said Bronc never missed a local game and was involved with the club until the very end of his life.
Bronc was also a determined mentor who "would lend his ear to any young fella", especially to fullbacks playing in his old position.
"He was just a good mate really. There would not be one person in Gundagai, other than the children, who would not know Bronc Jones and what he did and who he was," Martin said.
"Obviously it's a legend of the town that's passed. But Bronc knew this was coming. So he doesn't want the community to be sad or disappointed. He just wants [his funeral] to be a celebration of his life. So that's what we'll do."
Cootamundra-Gundagai mayor Abb McAlister said Bronc was not only a top sportsperson and footballer but a great community man.
"I really offer my condolences to his wife Jill and all his family. We've lost a real soulmate and a champion of the community," Cr McAlister said. "He will be sorely missed in our town. Gundagai always came first. He was just a top bloke."
Bronc is survived by Jill, his daughter Jayne, eight grandchildren and eight - soon to be 11 - great-grandchildren.
He will be buried in South Gundagai Cemetery beside his beloved son Mark, who died in 2017 at the age of 52 in a car accident near Tumut.
A celebration of Bronc's life will be held from 1.30pm Friday, March 12 at the Anzac Park football oval in Gundagai.