Long-time Whanganui disability advocate, activist, and service provider Leslie John (Les) Gilsenan has died at the age of 69, leaving behind four sons and six grandchildren.
Les, the oldest of 10 children, required the use of a wheelchair from his mid-30s onward, and founded the Whanganui Disability Resources Centre Trust in 1992.
He also spent seven years as the director of the Association for Supported Employment in New Zealand, was president of the Federation of Disability Information Centres, and was a key part of the Whanganui Disability Strategy in 2010.
His son Kieran said there wasn't much Les couldn't do.
"I remember being a young kid, maybe eight or nine, and I'd be holding wood for him while he chopped it up with a chainsaw," Kieran said.
"Me and my brothers would line up bits of wood on the block for him chop from his chair. Dad had pretty incredible upper body strength.
"The fact that he was in a wheelchair never seemed like an odd thing for me, he was never any different to anyone else."
Kieran said his father coached cricket at both Keith Street School and Whanganui Intermediate and all Les's sons were part of his teams along the way.
"We would always play cricket with him in the back yard and the cheeky bugger would park his wheelchair right in front of the stumps when it was his turn to bat.
"There was always the chance of a 'wheelchair before wicket', but it would be absolutely plum and he'd just say 'nope, not out'."
His father had been a storeman at the Lake Grasmere Salt works before his legs started to fail him, Kieran said.
The family had then moved to Whanganui to be closer to whanau.
"His disability was never a curse," Kieran said.
"Dad was in a position to help people, and it made him more understanding of how to go about it."
Les was nominated for the Queens Service Medal in 2014 for his services to people with disabilities, but he declined it.
Vanessa Blignaut, who worked with Les at the Whanganui Disability Resources Centre for around 12 years, said that was because his ethos had always been based around teamwork.
"He was really humble, and just said 'there's probably someone more deserving'," Blignaut said.
"There was never an I in the equation, it was always 'we did this'.
"His very famous quote? 'Whatever it takes'. We went where angels dare to tread, and we were cutting edge in how we operated and how we worked, and that was completely and utterly due to him.
"Les saw the goodness in people, and the potential in people."
Sir Robert Martin, an independent expert on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, said Les had been a long-time mentor to him.
"He was a person with immense knowledge about people with all kinds of disabilities, and he had a great amount of respect," Martin said.
"Not only here in town, but New Zealand-wide as well."
Martin said he, like Les, was "cricket mad", and they had discussed the sport in depth over the past 20 years.
"To me, his lasting legacy is showing what people with disabilities can achieve. He was a 'can do' person.
"I wouldn't be in the place I am now if it wasn't for his assistance along the way."
Les had been instrumental in setting up May Day (Disability May Affect You Day) in Whanganui, former colleague Ian Harper said.
Ian Harper joined the board of the Whanganui Disability Resources Centre (of which Les was the chair) 25 years ago, and he said it was thanks to Les that his knowledge of the needs of the disabled community grew.
"He was a man with great vision, and he had real empathy for a whole range of people with a disadvantage.
"Les didn't just focus on those, like himself, who were in a wheelchair.
"He would get all the disability services along to the expo, but he'd also get plumbers, builders, and other general service providers along as well.
"Doing that really broadened the range of it (May Day), and each year it grew and grew.
"Even when he didn't manage to get funding he still found a way to put it on. May Day was a great thing for Whanganui."
There had been "a few barnies and disagreements" over the years, but Les always knew how to find resources and get things done, Harper said.
"It's not so much the programmes and the talk that matter to people with disabilities, it's what you actually end up doing.
"Les was very keen on making things happen."
Kieran Gilsenan said when he was younger he thought his father was "a bit of a grumpy bastard", but Les had softened quite dramatically as time went on.
"He was always very particular with how things should be done, but when we did up his house recently he didn't have too much to say about what kind of job we were doing. That was a bit of a surprise.
"His grandchildren stayed over every weekend during his last couple of years, and that was always the highlight of his week.
"He loved having them around."