Ed Boyd's wife Hinemoa and his children are mourning the loss of "a beautiful man" and Whanganui mourns with them.

More than 1000 people gathered at the Whanganui War Memorial Centre yesterday to farewell a man who has given so generously to the community he loved.

A large photo of a smiling Ed flanked by two large vases of flowers greeted mourners at the entrance.

They were the only flowers at the service because the family requested donations to the Motor Neurone Disease Association in lieu of flowers.

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"Ed died of motor neurone disease which he was only diagnosed with two weeks ago," funeral director Craig Cleveland said.

Cleveland spoke of the man he had known as a friend and listed his many achievements, including being the first student at Whanganui High School to own a car thanks to his hard work at after-school jobs.

He spoke on behalf of Hinemoa, who met Ed in 1994 and described their years together as partners in "love, home, life and work" as a perfect union.

"You are and always will be my beautiful man."

Ed's daughter, Natasha, also referred to her father as "a beautiful man" and said he always remembered to call her at the exact time of her birth every year on her birthday.

Ed also showed great love for his hometown and sponsored the printing of many books, scholarships for UCOL students, and made numerous donations to helping agencies.

"It would take me days to list all of the things Ed has done for Whanganui," Cleveland said.

The philanthropist, businessman and vintage car lover leaves behind Hinemoa, Natasha, his son Kieran and grandchildren Jason, Siobhan and Joss.

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He was a cherished brother of Noeline, Peter, and Iain as well as a loved and respected boss of the staff at H&A Print.

Ed became an apprentice bookbinder at Meteor Print in 1968 and in 1973 he was named NZ Bookbinder of the Year.

He soon bought shares in Hanton and Anderson Print which became the H&A Print of today which he has run with Hinemoa.

"Firstly, we would like to say a heartfelt thank you to the brave, thoughtful people that have stopped into H&A with kind words, cards, flowers and baking. It's not an easy thing to do but we really appreciate it," a statement from H&A said.

"Losing Ed has been a real shock. It's been very difficult to deal with the grief and keep the place running but it's what he would have wanted. H&A was such a huge part of Ed.

"He has some very longstanding staff and our work family will miss him dearly."

Edgar Laurence Boyd (he became Ed during his teens), was the youngest child of the late Doug and Joan Boyd, who instilled in their son the spirit of generosity.

His generosity was matched by his tenacity and when the Queen Mother visited Whanganui in 1963, young Ed, dressed in a kilt, managed to score himself a ride in the front seat of her Rolls Royce.

The young Highland dancer had nagged the chauffeur for a ride in the gleaming vehicle after performing for the visiting royal at the Opera House.

His persistence paid off and he got to accompany the driver on an errand to the Rutland Hotel and so his love of classic cars began.

It would not be the last time Ed made a memorable appearance in a kilt and his long-time friend and former mayor of Whanganui Annette Main recalls Ed wearing the Gaelic attire for a mufti day at Whanganui High School in the 1960s.

"It was a pretty radical move at the time," she recalls.

Main, who has served on several trusts with Ed, said he has always been generous with giving people rides in his own classic cars and giving of his time and resources.

"Ed has left a strong legacy and in 100 years' time people will remember Ed Boyd as we remember Henry Sarjeant now."