A much-loved Featherston community benefactor and chef has died while travelling overseas with his partner.
Royal Hotel co-owner Ulli Reinartz is believed to have died of a heart attack on Thursday, while on holiday in Germany with his partner and Royal Hotel co-owner Dean Davies.
As well as chef de cuisine at the Royal, Mr Reinartz was well known in Featherston as an active member of South Wairarapa Rotary and a sponsor and supporter of community events and charities.
He and Mr Davies ran Guten Appetit Catering, based at the Royal Hotel.
Staff on Saturday told the Times-Age they were "absolutely devastated" to hear the news.
Rose Hill said they could not believe it at first.
"Ulli had a heart of gold, he would do anything for anybody at the drop of a hat.
"We closed early last night [Friday], it was a bit hard.
"Staff have been rallying around, we are going to carry on the business."
Marguerite Tait-Jamieson said she had known Mr Reinartz for 20 years as her "most generous friend" who was hugely involved in his community.
"Tremendous fun to be with, a great lover of life.
"I couldn't tell you how many people he has helped in quiet ways."
Featherston School principal Phil Robertson has lived next door to the couple for about a decade and said Mr Reinartz would be terribly missed by a community he had supported tirelessly throughout the years.
"He was well respected. There are a lot of shocked people, like with anything that suddenly, without warning, like this, happens in a small community," he said.
"It is a very caring community and when the chips are down they rally around and support each other, as I'm sure they will do when Dean returns."
He recalls a man dedicated to his business and community.
Dozens of messages have been left on the Wairarapa Times-Age Facebook page including the following:
Tiffany North: When I told my daughter Chloe, she said, "I love him. He makes pudding even better than ice cream." Bet there are loads of memories in people's minds right now ... you'll be missed big time Ulli.
Cindy Gillies: Omg ... Ulli ... Plzd u n Dean were together but so so sad. Finkn of you Dean xxx
Lee Carter: You will be sorely missed Ulli Reinartz, irreplaceable is the word that comes to mind - you knew how to "live"and you made sure other people saw and lived it as well!!! God Bless.
Felicia Andrews: Ohh thats some really sad news to hear! my deepest aroha to dean and royal pub!! a my tears goes owt to you dean davies xox.
Nifo Tauiliili: You will certainly be missed not just the wider community but by the Featherston Community alone. Our love, thoughts and prayers to Dean and family. RIP my good friend Ulli Reinartz, will miss you always, but you will never be forgotten. xoxoxo
Alix Cooper: Utterly devastated for Dean.
Rachel Burt: Very sad to hear - Ulli you were a top bloke! God Bless you & Dean. x
Mercia Abbott: Very sad to hear he was a lovely charismatic man. Thoughts are with his partner, friends and family.