He was a man of honour.
He was a man of dignity and of principle.
He was a man of respect and one who was respected, not because he commanded it but because he earned it and deserved it.
He was a man of loyalty, of courage, a leader, an inspiration to all.
He was a man of determination and tenacity, never shying away from a challenge.
He was a man who saw every day as a day for living, for striving, for achieving.
Those are the essential elements that made up the man we all knew as Don McGregor.
And yesterday, when more than 600 of us gathered inside and outside the chapel at Wanganui Collegiate School to bid a final farewell to Mr McGregor, the multitude of impressions we had of him were reaffirmed many times over.
James Roland (Don) McGregor, NZ Army Reg No T623133, Lt Col OBE, 2NZ Regt FARELF, 5WWCT Malaya was not a man who was great in terms of physical stature. But he was a giant of a man in terms of the contribution he made to his community and his country and for the impact he made on so many people That was reflected in his funeral service yesterday, not only by the number of people who turned out to pay their last respects but also in the tributes paid by the various speakers.
Mr McGregor's farewell was also a multicultural occasion blending Scottish, military and Maori tradition, ceremony and protocol.
All that blended into a stirring tribute to a professional soldier, shepherd, farmer, shearer, possum trapper, fencer, family man, Wanganui district councillor.
His son-in-law, Lance Rowe, told the gathering he regarded Mr McGregor as "one of the finest men I'll ever meet".
"If ever there was a man whose life is worth celebrating, it was him."
Representing the New Zealand Army, Brigadier Tim Brewer reflected on Lt Col McGregor's 40-year career as a professional and territorial force soldier.
He focused on the special attributes of the professional soldier trust, loyalty and courage. There was no doubting Lt Col McGregor's performance in those areas.
But as well, Brig Brewer said, he displayed "moral courage".
"He was one of the most principled men I have ever known," he said.
That Lt Col McGregor was awarded the OBE for his services to the army was also a "rare honour" for an officer of that rank and a measure of the high regard in which he was held within the military.
It was an emotional council colleague, Randhir Dayha, who paid tribute to Mr McGregor for his contribution to the governance of the Wanganui district for just over a decade.
He carried out those duties in a "quiet, unassuming, gentlemanly manner" because, for Mr McGregor, "people always came first".
Drum Major of 5Batt WWCT Regiment pipe band Adam Gibson dealt with Mr McGregor's huge input, firstly into the revival of the regimental pipe band and then into building it up to become a fully functioning (and functional) part of the regiment.
Mr Gibson described Lt Col McGregor & Sir & Col Don & as a man of humility, honesty, loyalty and integrity; as "an officer and a gentleman".
"If only we could all be like Col Don," he said.
Whanganui iwi spokesman John Maihi presented his tribute in Maori and English.
He reflected on the consistent way Mr McGregor handled his role as the council's representative on the Tupoho Working Party, established in the aftermath of the Moutoa Gardens occupation.
Mr Maihi said the outstanding thing for him was the way Mr McGregor's "traditional way of thinking was so close to Maori tikanga".
"He was a true leader amongst us, and we even began to suspect him of being Maori," he said.
To the skirl of the pipes and the beating of drums and, to the tune Flower of Scotland, the casket containing the late Don McGregor was carried shoulder high by soldiers of 5Batt WWCT into Collegiate chapel.
And after the traditional RSA ceremony of the placing of poppies on the casket at the end of the service a lone piper played the lament The Dark Island.
And when all had finally been said, the casket, draped with the regimental flag, topped with Lt Col Don's lemon squeezer hat and simple floral wreath, was carried out to the slow march tune "Highland Cathedral".
After the casket was placed in the hearse, Lt Col McGregor's ceremonial sword was placed on top.
Moments later, the pipe band lead the hearse away, taking Mr McGregor to his final resting place and leaving this community and this country all the poorer for his passing but richer for just having known him.
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