HE was her husband, her best friend, her soul mate and a keen family man.
But delivering the eulogy yesterday, Alan Greaves’ wife, Maureen, told how he will remembered by so many others.
“Since his death, many people have described him as a Good Man, and this is a very true description of him,” she said. “He had his irritations and failures, but even at his least patient and most tired, Alan was a very kind, compassionate and truly selfless person.”
The funeral at St Saviour’s Church in High Green was a few hundreds metres from where he was attacked on Christmas Eve as he made his way to play the organ.
Mrs Greaves had invited the community to pay their respects - and about 400 people filled St Saviour’s and nearby St Mary’s RC Church, where the service was shown via video link. Around 100 people were standing outside in the cold. (Mrs Greaves supplied hot drinks and buns).
Mrs Greaves was joined by family members to watch the wicker coffin carried into church.
She told the congregation that she knew from the moment she met him that she wanted to marry him.
“On our second date we went for a walk and after, when we were resting in a nearby church, Alan took my hand and said: ‘Let’s pray about our future together’. From those first prayers together until this day, I have known that I have found my soul mate.”
Her husband has been a social worker for 35 years - “dedicated and conscientious, often willing to go way above and beyond the call of duty”.
On retirement, he immediately found various ways of getting involved in the community, from playing the piano at school, being a school governor and visiting the sick and lonely.
He helped with Mrs Greaves’ church work, preparing sermons, music and children’s talks, delivering leaflets and decorating.
“Alan loved to read his Bible because he truly believed it was God’s way of speaking to us and most mornings before breakfast he would sit and have a time with God before the day began.”
The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Steven Croft, paid tribute to a “husband, father, friend, Christian and musician”, highlighting Mr Greaves’ gentleness, generosity, grace and faith.
His prayers extended to the emergency services who tried to save Mr Greaves and to his attackers, hoping that they would be brought to justice and would understand the enormity of what they had done.
Aged 68, the lay preacher sustained head injuries on Greengate Lane, dying three days later in hospital.
“I am so thankful to have loved and been loved by Alan,” said Mrs Greaves.
“I am so proud of the man he was and of the life that he lived.
“As my husband and best friend, Alan loved me well. He did so many little things that showed how much he cared for me, from making endless cups of tea, answering some of my emails, giving me lifts to places, making telephone calls for me and doing odd jobs that I hadn’t got time to do.
“On more than one occasion I would come home from work and on the kitchen table would be a huge bunch of flowers with a note: ‘I love you Maureen so much and I’m so glad I married you.”