NOOSA has lost one of nature's true gentlemen.
The many friends and supporters of Col Brownhill have paid tribute to him as a great champion for local wildlife.
Col has passed on to become part of the great life cycle just as his Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is having its own renewal thanks to his local community realising the worth of what he and his wife Gill have given back to the area. No one is more proud of his legacy than Gill, who shared a passion for caring for creatures.
On May 10, Col Brownhill lost the struggle with the motor neurone disease he was diagnosed with last year, but by then locals were already rallying to help the centre overcome some major setbacks - not the least being Col's illness.
Col and Gill started the Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in 1997 and since then have treated more than 20,000 birds, marsupials and reptiles that had fallen victim to cars, disease or predators.
Earlier this year Gill was forced to appeal for community support for donations to employ a full-time caretaker to manage its 24-hour animal refuge which includes 15 flight aviaries, nine possum houses and two large intensive care buildings.
Back then centre secretary Chris Hartley said Gill and Col were not able to direct its future due to Col's health battle.
"The future of the Eumundi Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre has been placed in the hands of the community," Mrs Hartley said.
In Eumundi yesterday the fruits of the community rally were due to be revealed to mark the centre's 15th anniversary and pay tribute to Col. A full report will be in Tuesday's Noosa News.
Here is a tribute to Col prepared by volunteer Ann White on behalf of Gill.
"Col was born in Linlithgow, Scotland, almost 67 years ago and migrated to Australia with his parents as a teenager.
"He was working as a forklift driver at the Buderim Ginger Factory when he met Gill, a fellow employee. They both knew it was the real thing and married six months later. Their partnership would last 42 years.
"Together they raised two of their own children and two from Gill's previous marriage, choosing to live on large and wooded hinterland properties near Eumundi and North Arm, delighting in the surrounding wildlife.
"While Gill was the driving force behind the couple building the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, Col was the people person. He was steadfast in his support of Gill's determination to create a rehabilitation centre that would do the best possible job for its patients and give them time to heal.
"The centre has a higher than average recovery rate due to its philosophy of care. The couple funded all the impressive infrastructure and Col cheerfully stacked supermarket shelves to help pay for it.
"Col is survived by Gill, his children, step-children and grandchildren and, of course, the remarkable Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre that he and Gill built."
The last word about Col goes to Gill who said:
"He would want to be remembered as a loving, kind gentleman who didn't want to upset his very determined wife. He is very sadly missed by all."