GALLERY: Hundreds gather to farewell Trudy Davis

• Tributes flow for 'symbol of region's heart'

• Appeal for help sparked outpouring of generosity

Trudy Davis always smiled through the pain, and that's what her many friends and family tried to do as they celebrated her life at her funeral on Friday.

They smiled as they watched her life unfold in photographs on the screen; they smiled as friends and family shared special memories of their lives together and they smiled as the strains of her favourite rocker Jimmy Barnes filled the room.

They cried too, as they mourned the woman who stole the hearts of many Illawarra residents a quarter of a century ago when she was just sweet 16.

It was in 1988 that the Illawarra Mercury editor at the time, Peter Cullen, launched a public appeal to raise funds to fly Trudy to Switzerland to have an aggressive brain tumour removed. The community raised $100,000 for the surgery, by renowned surgeon Ugo Fisch.

Trudy Davis with her second child, Jed, in 2002.

It was a success and Trudy and Peter's bond remained strong until his death in 2000. At Hanson and Cole at Kembla Grange yesterday, Peter's wife Janine gave a heartfelt eulogy to a woman she said was "beautiful, charming, funny".

"She was such an incredibly strong person," Mrs Cullen said. "She had so much passion for many things, but her first love was her family.

"Despite her ongoing health issues Trudy rarely complained; she always greeted loved ones and family with that beautiful smile."

Mrs Cullen said her husband had never hesitated when asked the highlight of his career; he said saving Trudy was his greatest achievement.

Trudy's uncle, Brian Warren, fought back tears as he shared his memories of a treasured niece who had a "kind soul" and a "zest for life".

"Trudy struggled with quality of life but you never heard her complain," he said. "She was always there to be of help to her mum and dad or any part of the family.

Trudy's sons Jei and Jed, 19 and 11, were comforted by family, and each other.

"I couldn't be prouder of mum for all that she did for us," Jei told those gathered in his touching tribute. "We're mum's guys and we always will be. Mum we love you."

The Mount Warrigal woman's sister, Tamara, also spoke of the "magical times" they shared. "I love my big sister and adored her. She will be in my heart forever."

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