The casket of Maria Felice is carried from Riverside Church in South Grafton.
The casket of Maria Felice is carried from Riverside Church in South Grafton. Adam Hourigan

VALE: Family and faith at her heart

HER voice rang out across the 2GF airwaves to thousands each week, her face greeted all those that came through the family business at Farmer Lou's.

But yesterday silence fell as hundreds came to mourn the loss of Maria Felice's colourful presence, a photographic tribute one last time for family and friends to smile and reflect upon the woman loved and admired.

Maria wouldn't have liked the fuss, the crowd who filled both the church and the hall of the Riverside Church were told, but nevertheless, the community she served, the friends she made, and the family she loved came to pay their respects.

Her coffin was surrounded by the things she loved.

A scarf from her beloved Bulldogs team draped over the casket, brightly coloured flowers nearby, the music of George Michael filled the airspace, while a crate of fresh fruit rested beneath. Ordinary items that told the story of a remarkable woman.

The 49-year-old was remembered as kind and loving, a person who enjoyed life, loyal and fiercely committed to her family business and her friends. Through the later years of her life her faith became more important.

And while the death of a loved one can test that aspect of even the most reverent, it was left to her brother Paul to tell how his faith was restored in the midst of blinding grief.

"I was driving along... and the tears that were running down my eyes, and I was questioning my faith and wondering what I was going to say today,” he said.

"And on the radio a song came on...and Maria was into Neil Diamond...the song was titled 'Save a Little Room for God'... and I know it was Maria. I know it was her.”

Mr Felice implored those, on behalf of his sister and best friend to pay attention to their loved ones. Others spoke, including her sister, her friends, and breakfast announcer Richie Williamson whom Maria spoke on the radio with twice weekly to spruik their produce so well "you could almost taste it”. But it was her nephew James who unwaveringly told the congregation he knew that she would always be looking down on them, affirming her commitment to her faith and family. Her smiling face may be gone from the fruit shop, but her memory will live on with many.