Fearless journalist and television trailblazer Mike Willesee has been remembered as a tender-hearted man who lived with the contradiction of being a public figure and an "intensely private" person.
While he was known for his masterful interviewing style and willingness to push the envelope, the distinguished journalist's softer side was hailed as one his greatest strengths at a funeral service in Sydney.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at St Mary's Cathedral to farewell the former Four Corners and A Current Affair host, who he died last Friday aged 76 after battling throat cancer.
"He was loving, he was patient, and overwhelmingly accepting of our choices," son Michael Willesee Jnr told the congregation.
"Dad also taught us, through his actions more than anything, how to look after one another. He had a tender heart and an incredible generosity towards anyone in need."
While Willesee was known to many Australians, a few knew him well, his son said before sharing some personal anecdotes.
Ever a story-teller, the journalist's headline-making escapades became bedtime stories for his children while his "incredible intellect" meant he could spontaneously spout a 3000 word essay on post-WWII economics.
For all his intelligence and generosity, Willesee wasn't very practical around the house - once caught out trying to make a fresh juice by jamming a banana and rock melon piece into a coffee percolator, his son revealed in a lighter moment that elicited muted laughter.
Willesee's career, which spanned five decades, began at the ABC before moves to the Nine and Seven networks.
Among those gathered to say goodbye were A Current Affair host Tracey Grimshaw, veteran entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins, media veterans Peter Meakin and David Leckie, and former 60 minutes reporter George Negus.
Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher oversaw the solemn requiem mass and read a message from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who said he admired Willesee's warmth, faith, respect and patriotism.
During the homily, the reporter's close friend Father Augustine Withoos praised his reversion and commitment to his faith despite the ridicule he attracted.
Willesee began a return to Catholicism after a plane crash in Kenya when he promised God he would "start looking into His business" if he survived, Fr Withoos said.
"Michael Willesee was no plaster-cast saint and I'm not here to canonise him," Fr Withoos told the congregation.
"I'm here rather to ask you what Mike wants of you now, to pray to God for his eternal soul."
Willesee, who had "all the hallmarks of a great Catholic man", had been writing a second book on his conversion story when he died, the priest said.
The journalist's works included an array of award-winning programs and documentaries, along with some of television's most memorable moments.
His "Birthday Cake Interview" on the GST with then opposition leader John Hewson was widely credited with changing the course of the 1993 federal election.
His varied career also included horse breeding, racing and heavy investment in his beloved Sydney Swans.
Australian Associated Press