THE front page of a national newspaper was the last place Rockhampton vet Dr Alister Rodgers would ever have wished to be.
A private man, he shunned the limelight.
Yesterday Dr Rodgers' wife Linda, son Duncan and daughter Courtney farewelled him in a moving funeral service at St Paul's Anglican Cathedral, William Street.
The fact his death was the fourth from Hendra virus ensured a strong media interest among the 450 mourners present.
At the service a single bouquet of red roses lay atop Dr Rodgers' casket next to three candles and a brown, wooden-framed picture of the vet.
Fighting back tears, his brother David said that when Alister visited his family six weeks ago he could not have believed he would be reading his brother's eulogy so soon afterwards.
The packed cathedral included Debbie Brown and Adrian Daniels, who manage the Cawarral stud property where Dr Rodgers contracted the virus that claimed his life on September 1.
Dr Rodgers, who died aged 55, graduated from the University of Queensland in 1978. He opened a service in Cloncurry and later bought Rockhampton Veterinary Clinic in 1999.
David said his brother was dedicated to his work and his family.
He related the story of a long-distance race at school in which Alister ran the final 400 metres on a broken leg.
He said his brother had the stamina to succeed and was a tireless worker.
“He was proud. He was extremely proud of his family,” David said.
David used his brother's eulogy to encourage people to donate to a memorial fund in Alister's name, which would raise money for Hendra virus research.
“Our thoughts and prayers at this time are also with the others who have been affected by the Hendra virus.
“We can only hope that through our losses some benefit may be obtained in finding prevention and cure for this most aggressive and deadly virus.”
Dr Rodgers' old friend David Lemon told how he first met Alister at St John's College.
“Alister never thought for a moment that he couldn't be successful,” he said.
“It was his positive attitude that made him so successful.
“We know that the life of Alister touched the lives and hearts of a lot of people.
“May you rest in peace, old mate. Take your boots, your hat, your swag and jeans and I hope you find a peaceful place to rest until we meet again.”
Dean Chris Whittall said family and friends would be angry and bewildered by Dr Rodgers' death to Hendra virus.
“The simple fact is there is nothing anyone could have done or done differently to prevent what happened,” he said.
Dr Rodgers' daughter Courtney sang quietly with the line, “Remember how we loved you,” from the song played as the coffin was carried out. Outside, staff from Rockhampton Vet Clinic formed a guard of honour, embracing each other as the coffin was carried out.
Dr Rodgers was buried at North Rockhampton cemetery.
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