THE Bundaberg community is mourning the loss of surf life saving stalwart Gary Radel who has lost his battle with cancer.
Mr Radel, a life member of the Moore Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club and council employee of 37 years, died peacefully in his wife, Rowena's arms in the early hours of Sunday.
The 62-year-old was diagnosed with lung cancer in March.
"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy battle," Mrs Radel said.
Mrs Radel said her late husband had a knack for remembering important dates of special events that had happened in his lifetime.
"It is a coincidence that he died on the one year anniversary of his life membership with Surf Life Saving Queensland," she said.
"For him, surf life saving was his life."
Mr Radel's stepdaughter, Star, was his "little shadow".
"He became my father - he wasn't just a step dad," she said.
"He always said to me I was like having a daughter and son at the same time."
Surf Life Saving Queensland Wide Bay Capricorn regional operations manager Craig Holden said Mr Radel was a "true gentleman" of the surf life saving movement.
"He was respected by everyone involved as a fair and honest surf sports' official and also as someone who was passionate about the training of members for their awards and accreditations - in particular, as a trainer and assessor," he said.
"He was a stickler for ensuring the correct standards and techniques for lifesavers when performing CPR as he believed that this made everyone a better lifesaver and also increased the chance of survival for a patient."
Mr Holden said Mr Radel had been honoured with not just one life membership, but three - with the Moore Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club, the Wide Bay Capricorn Branch and at the state level with Surf Life Saving Queensland.
"This reflects the dedication and commitment that Gary demonstrated to the Surf Life Saving Association across all levels and for this he will leave behind a robust legacy," he said.
Mr Radel was a plumbing officer with the Bundaberg Regional Council.
Friend and workmate Tony Read said Mr Radel's passing had been felt by all council staff.
"Even now, talking to the plumbers and engineers around the area, they would always ring Gary for advice," he said.
"They relied on his local knowledge for their contracts and developments.
"He always looked out for the plumbers and offered advice."
The pair first met at the Moore Park Beach Surf Life Saving Club in 1986, and eventually became colleagues at the former Burnett Shire Council in 2003.
"Gary was always that bloke, even if he was snowed under with work, he would drop what he was doing to give you a hand," Mr Read said.
"He loved to have a joke but at the same time he kept a level of professionalism. He loved his family, fishing, crabbing and didn't mind a nice cold beer."