Robert John Pepper—a leader, mentor, shearer, police officer, Community Citizen of the Year award winner and larger-than-life personality—passed away last week.
Those his life had touched gathered in Geraldton today to pay their respects.
Mr Pepper, 65, passed suddenly last week while shearing at a property near Northampton.
Several heartbroken friends and family members took the chance to speak of Mr Peppers unwavering kindness and energy for life.
“I’ve never seen a man with better work ethic in my life. If we all lived the way he did, the world would be a better place,” said his Brother-in-law Leo Kevalaitis.
Musician and friend of the deceased Eric Dalgety paid tribute in song.
“When the roses bloom again. Beside the river. And the mockingbird has sung his sweet refrain. In the days of auld lang syne. I’ll be with you sweetheart mine. I’ll be with you when the roses bloom again,” he sung to the hundreds in attendance despite the sweltering heat.
Mr Pepper’s nephew Anthony Bellotti gave a eulogy on behalf of the family, relaying stories of Mr Pepper’s childhood.
One of eleven, he was known as the “little king” of the lot, according to Mr Bellotti.
Nephew Daniel Bellotti, fellow shearer John Seaby and WA Polices’s Jamie Walker also told stories, celebrating a life well lived.
“Over the years, Bobby built friendship with all who had the pleasure of working with him,” read Mr Seaby from a compilation of short letters written by Mr Pepper’s “shearing family”.
He also worked as a WA Police Aboriginal liaison officer for 23 years. A police procession opened the funeral, paying tribute to his achievements with the force.
Mr Pepper is survived by his wife Rachel Bellotti, his children Jacinta Rose Bellotti, Jesse Bellotti, Bobby Pepper Bellotti, Ava-Rose Bellotti and countless other family members and friends.
The funeral was held at Edith Cowen Square. The City of Greater Geraldton closed several roads to make way for guests and the event was followed by a wake at Waggrakine Hall.