Alan Greaves died three days after he was beaten in Greengate Lane, High Green, Sheffield, on Christmas Eve, and yesterday his wife Maureen read a eulogy to her “soul mate” during the emotional service.
She also described how her husband, who was repeatedly described as a “good man”, had taught her not to allow herself to behave in a way which went against Christian teaching.
Mrs Greaves added: “On Christmas Day when I sat beside Alan’s bruised and battered body it was only natural my thoughts would turn to the men who had so cruelly and brutally attacked him.
“But even on that day I heard Alan saying: ‘Maureen, don’t give yourself permission’.
“So I was determined to turn aside from hatred, vengeance, unforgiveness and retaliation towards those who killed him.”
Hundreds of people listened to the eulogy not only in St Saviour’s Church, where the couple were regular worshippers, but also via video link in nearby St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, just 100 yards away
Scores of wellwishers who could not get into either church were stood in freezing temperatures outside, listening to the many tributes to Mr Greaves, 68, through loud speakers.
Mrs Greaves told the congregation how the couple told each other of their love the morning before he was attacked.
She said: “Alan bought me my last bunch of flowers on Christmas Eve morning.
“When I went to thank Alan and give him a kiss, he said, ‘I love you so much Maureen, so much, and I’m so glad that I married you’.
“I answered with the same.”
Mrs Greaves described her husband’s 35 years as a dedicated social worker and of his love of music – from church choirs to karaoke.
And she detailed father-of-four Mr Greaves’s deep religious faith and commitment to the church.
“The hours that he spent before God shaped his character and made him the truly beautiful man that he was,” said Mrs Greaves.
Earlier, Mrs Greaves followed her husband’s wicker coffin as it was carried into church.
She was supported by family, friends and church members.
There were no flowers in the black hearse, although the lead mourner carried five red roses ahead of the four pallbearers.
Canon Simon Bessant, who led the service, told the congregation: “That such an event could happen in this community, which is not a bad area, on that of all nights, has shocked so many of us.
“I know that many people feel very angry that such a gentle soul could be struck down with such senseless aggression.”
The vicar said Mr Greaves had been a reader in the Church of England for 36 years and he had been married for 42 years.
“I can simply find no better way to describe Alan than to say that he was a good man,” he said.
“Yes, for Alan that divine love and goodness shaped his whole life. A generous, overflowing love which he experienced for himself which he, in turn, lived out for others.
“The best way to respect and honour Alan’s memory is to let his example of loving and giving inspire all of us to do the same.
“I know that is exactly what Maureen intends to do here in High Green and I’m sure many others will want to stand by her.”
Mr Greaves’s coffin was carried out of church after a blessing from the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Steven Croft.
There was a brief round of applause for Mrs Greaves as she left.
Mr Greaves was attacked, close to his home, at around 11.10pm on December 24. Two men have appeared in court charged with Mr Greaves’ murder. They are due in court again in April.