Hundreds pay tribute to paramedic and ‘true gentleman’

AN ADORING husband, devoted father, loyal mate and true gentlemen.

This was how friends and family remembered Rockhampton paramedic James 'Jim' O'Donnell, paying tribute to a man who touched the lives of so many.

Jim died suddenly last Tuesday, leaving behind wife Jennie and daughters Julia, Jessica and Jenna.

Hundreds gathered today to celebrate the life of the 51-year-old, with his Queensland Ambulance Service colleagues forming a guard of honour.

Addressing the mourners, Major Colin Maxwell described Jim's death as a "tragic loss to his family and the wider community".

Those gathered heard Jim's family were the centre of his universe and "a better father could not be found".

Friends and colleagues said his face would "light up" when talking about Jennie or his daughters.

Julia, Jessica and Jenna spoke lovingly of the "greatest man we'll ever know" as they shared fond memories of their father dancing with them in the kitchen and teaching them to drive.

Close friend Justin Fletcher gave a moving eulogy about the man who was "so much to so many".

Jim was born in Scotland and later worked as a deep sea diver in Hong Kong before following a dream to move to Australia.

It was here he met Jennie, the woman who would become his best friend and wife of 25 years.

James 'Jim' O'Donnell, a Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic who died suddenly last week. Photo contributed.
James 'Jim' O'Donnell, a Queensland Ambulance Service paramedic who died suddenly last week. Photo contributed. Photo contributed ROK150616odonn

After distinguished service with the New South Wales Ambulance Service, the O'Donnell family moved to Queensland and settled in Rockhampton in 2005.

Here, he continued to go beyond the call of duty as a paramedic and mentor.

Queensland Ambulance Service supervisor Brad Miers said Jim supported almost every new paramedic that came through the Rockhampton station, becoming a father figure for many.

He said Jim's death had touched the Queensland Ambulance Service deeply.

"He absolutely loved the younger generation of paramedics coming through and nurtured them as much as he possibly could," he said.

TRIBUTES FLOW: The Queensland Ambulance Service colleagues of Jim O’Donnell form a guard of honour at his funeral, where he was remembered as a loving family man and dedicated paramedic.
TRIBUTES FLOW: The Queensland Ambulance Service colleagues of Jim O’Donnell form a guard of honour at his funeral, where he was remembered as a loving family man and dedicated paramedic. Michelle Gately Rokodonnell

Paramedic Loretta Johnson was one of the student paramedics mentored by Jim.

"He looked after his students," she said.

"I remember being that little scared student and Jim being that gentleman.

"He truly was a gentleman."

Family friend Ian Van der Woude described Jim as a "go-getter" who was always working on the next plan to renovate the family home and "was never one to stand still".

"He was the only male in a house with four girls," Ian said. "He was a very devoted family man, absolutely loved the girls and they absolutely loved him."

Ian said Jim and Jennie's "passion for people" stood out in their family.

"They really cared for people and community and that really went to their friends as well," he said.

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