THE first time I met him he was sitting back in his office, strumming on his guitar and with a warm smile on his face.
To know Garth Prowd was a delight. A quiet achiever who took the time to give a considered response.
There was a small sign on his wall: How can you soar like an eagle if you surround yourself with turkeys.
It didn't take long to realise that here was someone with perception.
So many people have been touched in some way by his foresight. He always had the time ... he always had the best interest of others at heart.
At that time Garth was advertising manager at the Noosa News and in my role we quickly got to appreciate what each could contribute not just to the paper but to the wider Noosa community.
His background in surf lifesaving was to prove a great asset, as when touring the US in his early life with wife Robyn he got to work on the ski patrol in the elite Colorado snow resorts. The Aspen patrol was impressed by his first-aid knowledge as well as skiing ability developed from a love of surfing.
Little wonder that Garth turned up at the Noosa Show at Pomona a year or two later with a cigar-chomping commanding officer of the USS Enterprise by his side. They had met on the slopes at Aspen and became great friends.
From his time at the nearby Jackson Hole ski resort, Garth quickly realised there was more to a community than the depth of snow. Jackson Hole had planned a great weekend of competition but unusual temperatures meant - no snow. Instead of abandoning the preparations, an alternative program was designed concentrating on participation and enjoyment.
That proved to be the vision Garth brought to the fledgling Noosa Triathlon. From an annual event in the 1980s to raise funds to help Australia's Olympic team, it has grown to become one of Noosa's most significant attractions.
Those early triathlons involved a training run the week before and a field of competitors measured in the hundreds. With former Olympian Dave Power as president and Joe Gilbert as secretary and a hard-working committee, Garth took on the role of event organiser.
Today the triathlon attracts a capacity field of 3000 and 30,000-40,000 spectators in a five-day festival of sport that embodies all Noosa, and indeed the wider Sunshine Coast, stands for - a clean, green image known world-wide.
The success of Noosa was replicated with the Mooloolaba Triathlon. The impact is that just about everybody on the Sunshine Coast is involved in one way or another - a participant, a spectator, a volunteer or someone who has simply been inspired to go for a fun run, a bike ride or a swim.
Then there are the benefits to business. The Noosa Triathlon, just like Mooloolaba, is a world-class event and its return on investment is exceptional.
Garth understood that it was better for people to be involved in an activity rather than simply coming and watching. That can be seen with the numbers involved in national touch football championships or masters cricket competitions, a fun run or a marathon, the island swim or a jazz festival.
Garth Prowd loved his family and friends. Yet he also loved Noosa and the community. Such was the nature of the man.
His loss due to a bike-riding accident while on a family holiday in Spain is a tragedy. One that will be felt by those who hardly knew him just as much as those who did.
I will always keep a team photo from those early triathlons and this text: Catch up again soon - Cheers GP
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