He was known around Te Puke as the ''Graffiti Buster''. But Alan Cotter, who died on September 15, was so much more than that.
He was a busy, energetic, well known and deeply loved 88-year-old, called a Te Puke icon by some, who had the community in his heart.
Alan was born in Rotorua in 1932 at the peak of the Great Depression. He was the third of Elspeth and Henry Cotter's seven children.
The family shifted nine times during his first 12 years and he attended eight schools in the central and lower North Island
At 15, Alan left school and started his first job. He had had an ambition to join the navy but was instead headhunted by the local stock agent Loan & Mercantile to run their operation in Kimbolton.
For the next two years, Alan would jump on the mail truck to Kimbolton on a Monday morning and hitch a ride home on Friday.
A transfer to the busy Palmerston North store was life-changing. It was in Palmerston that he met his future wife Isabel Pilkinton.
In 1956, he was transferred to Rotorua and in 1958 he and Isabel were married. Their eldest child Julie was born in Rotorua in 1958.
After another transfer, this time to Ōpōtiki, a second daughter joined the family in 1960 – Debbie (or Ana).
When Loan & Merc merged with Dalgety's, Alan was appointed merchandise manager of the merged company at Te Puke. That was in 1962. He would spend much of the rest of his life in the old house in Boucher Avenue. There were three more children - Grant in 1962, Jan in 1965 and Malcolm in 1970.
Alan ran the trading division of Te Puke Dalgety's for many years, servicing the needs of the local farming community.
He became a familiar figure as he walked briskly to work and back twice a day.
From the early days in Te Puke, Alan was involved in community activities. He was a volunteer ambulance officer for 34 years during which time he estimated he had attended 800 meetings, spent 20,000 hours on call and responded to 1200 callouts. Te Puke St John chairwoman Lyn Govenlock said Alan was for many years the anchor for the local St John Committee as area executive officer at a time when local committees ran the ambulance.
''He saw the service go through many changes over the decades and was always supportive and forward thinking,'' said Lyn.
He served as regional staff officer and in 1986 was admitted to the Order as a member. In 1991 he was promoted to officer and further promoted to commander of St John in 2002.
''His great knowledge of the history of the local St John service and endless support for St John Te Puke will be sorely missed.''
Alan was also a keen crime-chaser. He was a long-time member of the Te Puke Day Patrol and of the Night Owls – he was patrol co-ordinator of the latter for nearly 20 years.
He initiated the Te Puke graffiti-busting scheme in 1999 with his friend Geoff Mutton.
''We have adopted a zero tolerance approach when it comes to graffiti in our backyard,'' Alan said later.
''We don't want Te Puke to become the Bay's version of South Auckland.''
He knew every nook and cranny in town where graffiti might hide.
Alan received numerous awards for his lengthy community service including a Paul Harris Fellowship award from Rotary and the Melvin Jones Fellow from the Lions.
In 1999 he received the Queen's Service Medal.
A keen cricketer and long-time club and regional secretary/treasurer, he was made a life member of the Bay of Plenty Cricket Association in 2016 – one of only four to receive that honour since 1931.
His passion for cricket dated back to his playing days.
Alan was a long time Te Puke Cricket Club administrator and was one of the prime movers in upgrading of the clubhouse and facilities.
He picked up the administration reins at Bay of Plenty Cricket when the organisation amalgamated with junior cricket in the 1990s.
Long-time friend and former Te Puke Cricket Club president Gary Hart said: "The cricket world was saddened to learn of the passing of Alan Cotter. He made a lifelong contribution to cricket both as a player and administrator.
''Even after Alan stepped down from formal roles he would frequently wander down to the Te Puke Domain to check that all was well, and he continued to attend Te Puke Club committee meetings where his attention to detail was acute".
Alan and Isabel opened their lives, hearts and home to many people over the years, welcoming in family members and others who needed a safe haven. As part of a church initiative, they became official "family friends" to the Wong family, Chinese refugees from Vietnam, in the late 1970s. Other families followed. At one stage, they had 11 people living in their Te Puke house.
When Grant became sick from Hiv/Aids in the early 90s, Alan and Isabel chose to nurse him at home. Alan would push Grant's wheelchair down Te Puke's main street, stopping frequently to chat with passers-by. After Grant's death, Alan and Isabel became advocates for Aids awareness.
Isabel's long illness and death in 2014 were tough for Alan.
However, his relationship with partner June brought the fun back into his life in recent years.
A long-time member of the Mangatoi walking group, Alan walked 6.2km the day before he died.
''Not quite as quickly as he used to do it, but not too bad for an old guy. We are all still in shock. It is hard to believe that this husband, partner, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, friend and colleague has gone from us so suddenly. We miss him hugely,'' said Ana.