FORMER broadcaster Thelma Mansfield paid an emotional final farewell to her Live at Three co-host Derek Davis as he was laid out in his home last night.
Mr Davis (67) died last Wednesday following a cerebral haemorrhage and his funeral takes place today at the Victorian Chapel in Mount Jerome in Dublin.
Friends and former colleagues flocked to his home in Killiney to pay their respects to a beloved TV icon.
Amongst those who turned out to comfort the Davis family were former education minister Mary Hanafin, retired RTE staff and many from the marine world.
Ms Mansfield, who shared the iconic Live at Three sofa with Derek for 12 years, said she cannot imagine life without his phonecalls and hearing his 'lovely voice' on the radio.
It had been a privilege to know her "charming, generous and sweet-hearted" friend, she said.
"If you knew Derek you would have fallen in love with him.
"I'm sure there will be 2,000 people at his funeral becasue he kept in touch with everybody from his university days and with everyone who shared his interest in cars, fishing, all the programmes he ever worked on and all his friends he met while drinking and eating his way around Ireland," she said.
"He was a great man for telling a story - you were always on the edge of your seat asking: 'what happened then'," she added.
She paid tribute to Mr Davis' widow, Una, describing her as a "tower of strength" and praised the couple's three "beautiful, big sons", Michael, Colm and Sean.
Ms Mansfield had been in Spiddal, Co Galway when she heard the news of his passing and said it had been "surreal," with media outlets "bombarding" her with requests for interviews, but she had just been diagnosed with pneumonia.
She will attend the funeral today along with former Live at Three researchers, with whom she has maintained friendship.
Just days before his death, Mr Davis gave a final interview to Niamh Horan of the Sunday Independent in which he spoke of looking forward to boat trips and wearing chinos in the summer.
Just over a year ago, he had begun training to get fit enough for bariatric surgery.
"At that stage I reckon I had two years left and I was reconciled with the fact that maybe I should just let things take their course. I had heard the chimes at midnight," he said. "I had had a good life."
But then, he said, the birth of his grandson made him want to live for as long as possible.