If there was ever a man to epitomise the phrase "heart of gold" - Ngongotahā's Sailesh Patel did just that.
A quiet giver, a dream fosterer and a big fan of the footy, the generosity shown by the former Ngongotahā Four Square owner had touched many lives.
Descriptions like "God's person" and "the nicest guy you could ever meet" were the first comments made by many who knew Patel.
He was a huge part of the Ngongotahā community, owning the local Four Square for 25 years and The Village Dairy before retiring in 2017.
The 64-year-old died in his sleep on Sunday.
He was known as "the Chief Sitting Bull of Ngongotahā".
Born in India and raised in Fiji, Patel was a committed Fiji rugby supporter and sponsor, a passionate vegetarian and a top hockey and football player.
He had been down in Wellington visiting his son and grandchildren when he died.
Raju Patel remembered his close family friend as a "great, great man" who he knew like a brother.
He described him as "God's person" with his charitable mind and huge heart.
Patel was a big family man. He and his wife had two children and three grandchildren, who he devoted much of his time too.
His son followed in his footsteps and owned a New World in Wellington, while his daughter was an optometrist in London.
Allen Hennessy was a supplier of Patel's and they became great friends over the years.
"He was a famous local identity. He never asked for anything and never told anyone about all the good he was doing."
He said Patel would sponsor local children with $25 a month for their university education, gave money to the Ngongotahā fire station and always looked after the elderly.
"He was just the kindest man, right through to his core. We will never get a person like that again."
Hennessy said there was a big hole in his heart after Patel's death.
Grant Macleod met Patel about 20 years ago when he was a local business manager.
He said he had spoken to him last Wednesday and Patel had been telling him how much he had been enjoying life. His son had just had a new child and he was doing lots of walking.
"He was the nicest guy you could ever meet."
He donated food and money to Kaitao Intermediate School and Pukehina Primary School to ensure every child got breakfast and would give lunches to local parents who could not afford to feed their children.
"You would see the mums come in their pyjamas and slippers in the early hours and Sailesh would be ready to give them the food in his bare feet and little singlet."
Springfield Superette owner Raj Kumar saw Patel as a "really good friend" and a "mentor".
Kumar said he often sought advice from him as a fellow and well-experienced business owner, especially in the early days of starting up his own shop.
"He was larger than life ... one of those people who would always be available when you need them."
He especially admired Patel's willingness to help. He would gift sausages and bread to community fundraisers and take the shirt off his back for anyone.
"I remember years ago when a Mamaku woman was giving birth in Waikato Hospital to triplets or even quadruplets, Sailesh sent chocolates and food up to the surgeons.
"That was just the kind of guy he was ... always helping, always giving."
He said after Patel was diagnosed as a diabetic, he started walking three hours a day and reversed his sugar levels to normal.
Every shopkeeper in town was in "shock and disbelief" by his sudden death, he said.
The Ngongotahā Four Square Facebook page put up a post announcing Patel's death that garnered hundreds of comments, reactions and shares.
"He was well known and respected in the local community and had a wonderful ability to remember so many people's names."
Only recently he had donated a courtesy van for the elderly of Ngongotahā to get from town and back and had begun rebuilding mobility scooters to donate them to those in need.
Many of the comments remembered the "special" man who was "so generous".
Some spoke about how he gave them jobs when they had nothing at all and how well he looked after his employees.
Patel's generous heart had touched Rotorua musician Alayna Powley, who shared a heartfelt post about his loss.
Powley, who grew up in Hamurana, said he had played a huge role in her dream of pursuing a career in music.
Patel had been speaking with Powley's father at the Four Square one day about her ambitions and he decided to set up a regular payment to help her out.
"For about two years I received support from Sailesh, who never asked for anything in return. The only thing he ever said to me was to make sure I 'pay it forward to others'."
Powley had since moved to New York and released a number of successful music tracks.
She said she had no doubt Patel was doing this quietly with many others who had dreams he believed in.
"There are so many heroes in our everyday lives, filled to the brim with empathy, kindness and generosity. Look out for them and cherish them. They are what makes life so much more special. Sailesh was one of them."
A funeral for Patel be held tomorrow at Ann's Funeral Home in Wiri, Auckland.