The late Leo De Grandis was a much-loved person. We know this through the wonderful tributes paid to Leo, amongst them those from old Parade classmates of his final year of 1985.

Leo died early Thursday, September 14, his daughters Jessica, 14 and Stephanie 13 by his side, after a long battle with cancer. Leo was less than four weeks short of his 50th birthday and the girls were of wonderful support to him through the 18-months of his illness.

Soon after, Leo’s best mate the Old Paradian Troy Cox, confirmed the news, which accompanied a wonderful image of Leo casting his line into the lake on a fishing trip back in April.

“At 1.10am this morning Leo slipped away peacefully in his sleep with his girls either side of him. My heart goes to his daughters, Mum, sister Lynette and Sara who have been constantly by his side the last few weeks,” Troy wrote on Facebook.

“To all his family and friends who came to see him these last few days, be assured he loved seeing each and every one of you. To those who asked for their thoughts and best wishes to be relayed to Leo, be assured that I didn’t miss any one of you and all your love was sent to Leo.

“One of a kind, the most giving, generous and loving old knucklehead I will ever know. You gave it everything. Love you mate.”

The other image featured of Leo was captured in the Hickey Foyer in June 2015, on the occasion of the 30-year anniversary of Parade College’s final year students of 1985. Leo can be seen in great spirits at the far right of this photograph with (from left) Peter Naim, Daniel Verbeeten and Paul Wilson.

This week, Daniel paid the following tribute.

“At all times during his illness, Leo remained defiant and positive that he would not let this beat him particularly since he enjoyed much love and support from his family and many friends,” Daniel said.

“Leo devoted his entire working career to helping the less fortunate at Disability Services Victoria. He was a very caring and compassionate person and always ensured that the welfare of his clients was paramount. Leo was also a keen photographer and was often employed as the official photographer at weddings and events, sometimes paid but many times voluntary for his family and friends.

“Leo loved fishing and spent many holidays and days off perched on the banks of a lake or river trying to catch ‘the one’! He loved nothing more than to sit by a lake such as Eppalock or Eucumbene with a couple of rods to get away from it all and enjoy some down time. His most vivid and memorable stories were always the epic fishing trips he had with mates.

“Leo is a proud Old Paradian from the Class of ’85. Some of his close life-long friendships began in the six years he attended Parade. He was a very outgoing character and just seemed to know everyone in his vicinity. He also had a flair for art and drawing and even in his last days was still creating some incredible drawings.

“Leo will certainly not be forgotten.”

Leo De Grandis's funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, 204-210 Grimshaw Street, Greensborough this Friday, September 22, commencing 10.30am.