VALENTINE Public School year two teacher Brett Youngberry has been remembered as a humble and generous family man and educator, who was funny, the life of every party, went above and beyond for his students and savoured simple pleasures.
Mr Youngberry, or Mr Y, passed away unexpectedly aged 52 on October 21 from a pulmonary embolism, after complications following an October 19 bilateral knee replacement.
Principal Lee Saurins said the school community's grief at the loss of the "irreplaceable storyteller" had spilled beyond its gates.
Due to COVID-19, the school is not allowed to have external visitors, but current and former families held a vigil outside last Thursday night and have left flowers, cards, drawings and cricket gear along the fence.
Families have baked his favourite treats for staff.
"It was not just about the teaching, it was his ability to give kids life's lessons," Ms Saurins said.
"He just had an innate and instinctive ability to understand people.
"He talked to the kids about believing in yourself, standing up for yourself and that no matter what comes your way, you've got this."
Mr Youngberry's wife Michelle said the family had been touched by the outpouring of emotion.
"It just shows he was such a wonderful man who was loved by so many," she said.
"To see that devotion displayed so publicly at the school is quite humbling and a testament to the legacy he has left behind."
The couple met at the University of Newcastle, where he coached her in baseball, a sport he adored along with cricket.
They decided when they started a family that Mr Youngberry would stop work as a surveyor and be a stay at home dad.
He looked after their children Lucy and Matthew, studied primary school teaching - receiving first-class honours and the university medal - and worked three part-time jobs at night.
Mr Youngberry taught at Wirreanda Public for two years before moving to Valentine 13 years ago.
He spent 10 months as relieving assistant principal at Toronto, but missed Valentine too much.
Lucy, 21, said her father often shared "teachable moments" with his children at the table to help them navigate their lives, but was humble and never talked about himself or his impact on students.
She said countless people have since told her about the difference he made in their lives.
"One young man told me that without a doubt, Dad's influence on him had saved his life."
Lucy said the family had relished spending more time together this year.
At home, he would "never mince his words" and spoke to Matthew's friends, who called him "Papa Brett", about respect, especially for women.
He bought a small outdoor fireplace so he could sit outside and read at night, while staying close to his family relaxing inside.
He also spent countless extra hours on calls and individual Zoom video conferences with families, offering help.
The "one time in his life" he danced was when students were able to return to classrooms. "He was all about the kids."
Mr Youngberry's family is now planning a celebration of his life.
"We are heartbroken and miss him terribly," Mrs Youngberry said.
"We are blessed to have had him in our lives."
Lucy said she was proud to be his daughter.
"I know Dad won't be forgotten," she said.
"He's too loud and too much the life of the party for that."
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