THE family of Bryan Lester remembers a quiet and kind man who was enjoying retirement after putting in years of service with the New Zealand military and police force.
The 78-year-old Cooloola Cove resident died in a head-on car crash at Bli Bli on Monday.
His nephew Matthew Ohs, a paramedic, spoke of his uncle with affection and the sadness of someone only too familiar with the effect of road trauma.
"I am a paramedic with 12 years of experience in Christchurch and Canterbury in New Zealand," he wrote.
"One of Bryan's sons is also a paramedic along with another of his nephews. Others in the family have strong affiliation to the emergency services and government departments as did Bryan.
"Road traffic crashes are not uncommon to us, but Bryan is the first, and hopefully last family member to be killed as a result of a road traffic crash."
Mr Ohs said Mr Lester was born and raised in Canterbury and had a large extended family.
He served in the New Zealand Military and police as a front-line officer and detective and spent many years working for the Ministry of Justice in the courts.
He moved to Australia to be close to some of his family and enjoy the lifestyle in his retirement.
"For the family, Bryan's memory will be of a gentle, quiet and straight-forward man who always had a story or joke to tell," Mr Ohs said.
"His door was always open to family and friends and when you walked in, a cuppa would soon follow.
"Shortly after this the stories would begin or he would lend an ear for a problem, with some 'uncle Bryan wisdom', the issue would be quickly resolved or put into prospective.
Mr Ohs said the family would like to acknowledge the members of the public, Communications Centre staff, ambulance officers, fire fighters, police, hospital staff and any others who responded to, provided care for and helped Mr Lester during and after the accident.
"We realise how difficult a scene like this is and know how hard you would have worked to save Bryan and the comfort that would have given him," Mr Ohs said.
"We thank you for all your efforts and want you to take comfort in knowing, if he was able to, Bryan would look you in the eye, give you a firm handshake, cheeky smile, tell you a joke, tell you that's life, let's get on with it and finally thank you for being there for him.
"To all that helped I personally thank you for all your efforts. Individually you can stand tall and have pride for being there, for a stranger, during his time of need. Keep up the excellent work and stay strong."