The much loved principal of St Peter's Anglican Primary School, Stephen Bomford, has been remembered as a passionate educator and humble man who touched the lives of many Campbelltown families. Megan Gorrey reports.
On the last school day of 2012, Stephen Bomford walked slowly through St Peter's Anglican Primary School and took a long look at the empty playground and hall behind him before he walked out the gate one last time.
He was watched by colleague Jon Ponsonby, who told guests at the principal's memorial service on Monday he believed it was his friend's way of saying goodbye to the school he had been devoted to for the past 15 years.
Mr Bomford died aged 58 from complications following surgery on January 6.
More than 2000 past and present pupils, parents and teachers joined friends and family members to celebrate the life of their beloved "Mr Bomford" on Monday.
Guests filled the Campbelltown school's hall and watched the service on screens in the playground, walkways and classrooms.
St Peter's Anglican Church minister Reverend Nigel Fortescue told the gathering Mr Bomford was a selfless man who was full of energy and vitality.
"He was a much-loved son, precious husband, wonderful father and stepfather, adoring grandfather, great uncle, an outstanding teacher, friend and educator."
Deputy principal Robbert Alderden said the school had thrived under Mr Bomford's "inspiring and visionary leadership".
"Stephen was a much-loved and highly respected man, a great friend, a devoted colleague, and an exemplary man of God."
The school's 2009 captain Katherine Trotman said Mr Bomford created a family atmosphere at the school and was a constant source of encouragement.
"I consider him a truly wonderful headmaster," she said.
Mr Ponsonby, the school's property manager, said the heart of Mr Bomford's life and work at St Peter's was his deep Christian faith.
"Stephen was, by any measure, an evangelist at heart."
"His commitment to our school was total.
"I know Stephen was asked a number of times to head up some of the 'big, city sandstone institutions' as he called them, but he turned them down."
His stepdaughters Catherine and Samantha read a poem by one of his favourite authors, JRR Tolkien.
However, it was Mr Bomford himself who had the final word at the service.
Video footage of his final speech at last year's year 6 farewell captured Mr Bomford as he urged the students to remember what they had learned at the school.
"A saying I always loved from a movie I watched called Dead Poets Society was carpe diem — it's Latin for seize the day," he said.
"And it basically means make the days count — every single day you have on this Earth is given to you as a gift from the Lord."
View our slideshow from the memorial service here: http://www.macarthuradvertiser.com.au/story/1235848/stephen-bomfords-memorial-service/?cs=1185
Watch Stephen's speech to year 6 students here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X5w0BuT9E8
Do you have special memories of Stephen Bomford?