Mike Willesee’s son delivered an emotional eulogy at his father’s funeral on Friday, just one week after the veteran journalist lost his battle with throat cancer.
Speaking on behalf of his family, Mike Willesee Jr stood before a crowd of hundreds at St Mary‘s Cathedral in Sydney, where he reminisced about the times spent with his beloved dad and the impact he had on his life.
While for many the reporter, who was initially diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016, will be remembered for his incredible journalistic skills, for his children and grandchildren he’s remembered as a family man who was much more comfortable at home with them and away from the limelight.
Throughout the eulogy Willesee Jr gave an insight into his father’s day-to-day life, telling mourners about the things his father had taught his children throughout his life, noting how important family was to the legendary journalist.
“He taught us to value honesty, above all, to be honest,” the son explained. “He set our moral compasses. He taught us important things like how to body surf and how to cook a barbecue for a big family gathering and he really taught us the importance of family getting together for those gatherings.”
Willesee Jr, who followed in his father’s footsteps to become a journalist, also detailed the things Willesee wasn’t quite as good at, joking about his limited skills around the family home.
“He wasn’t particularly practical around the house,” Willesee Jr joked. “My sister Jo caught him in the kitchen one morning trying to make a fresh juice jamming a banana and a piece of rockmelon into a coffee percolator. He paid her $50 not to tell anyone that story.
“Amy caught him cutting what he thought to be a block of cheese. Turned out to be a packet of individual wrapped cheese slices. He took Josh out on the harbour one New Year’s Eve for the fireworks in a 12-foot dingy, their only personal safety a hand-held torch. They were very lucky to survive that one.”
He also recalled trying to help his dad fix a VCR at home one day.
“I helped him to try to fix a video recorder one time with a carving knife and a set of barbecue tongs. We got ourselves a new video recorder,” he deadpanned.
Not only did Willesee share some special and memorable moments with his family, he also treasured their gifts much more than the awards he collected throughout his career, proving above all he was a family man.
“It’s telling the only accolade displayed at home in his last few years was his World’s Best Pa coffee mug awarded to him by his grandson Lucas, it just meant so much more,” Willesee Jr said.
The journalist’s funeral was attended by a plethora of TV personalities including A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw, Today show presenter Richard Wilkins and his girlfriend Virginia Burmeister and veteran journalist George Negus.
Willesee sadly passed away on March 1 at the age of 76 following a lengthly battle with throat cancer.