The Hepburn Shire and the Australian environmental movement alike are in mourning following the tragic death of former mayor Rod May on Monday.
Mr May was driving his red Ducati motorcycle on Ballarat-Daylesford last Monday night when he collided with a car.
The ambulance air wing rushed to the scene and flew Mr May to Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, where he remained in a critical condition for a week after sustaining severe injuries.
A prominent environmentalist, the Blampied organic farmer had his first taste of public life on the former Creswick Shire serving as a councillor in the Hepburn Shire from 2008 to 2012, including a year from 2010 to 2011 as mayor.
Council colleagues Don Henderson and Sebastian Klein remembered Mr May as a determined and focused individual with a great sense of humour and a unique ability to communicate with all types of people.
“Especially when he was mayor he always had a sense of common decency and would think about the little person,” Cr Henderson said. “Rod was always the voice of reason and calm.
“He was also a bit of a larrikin and he brought a bit of fun and humour to the council.”
“His contribution to municipal and community life over the decades of his life is unmistakable,” Cr Klein said.
“Among his colleagues here at our council and among our communities, he will be sorely, and sadly missed."
As well as his extensive work with local government, Mr May was a leading figure in the sustainable farming movement across Australia.
He served as the chairman for the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia and played a major role in the creation of the new Australian Organic Standards in 2009.
Mr May was also a pioneer of his own veggie box program back in 2005, which allowed people around the region to access seasonal, organic produce directly from his farm.
His was a driving force behind the Branch Out employment project, which saw thousands of trees planted across the state.
Australian author and permaculture expert David Holmgren, who first met Mr May in the 1970s, described him as “a visionary thinker who had a down to earth ability to connect with ordinary people”.
“As well as being a very down to earth person he was a natural diplomat with a great ability to connect with all sorts of people,” Mr Holmgren said. “He was one of the most knowledgeable people on organic agriculture in the country.
“In spite of working on that high level he was still a quintessential bloke out there working on the farm.”
After two years away from politics, Mr May ran as the Greens candidate for the seat of Ripon in the 2014 state election.
Speaking with Fairfax Media ahead of the 2014 election, Mr May said he “never had a burning desire to be a career politician,” but was motivated to put up his hand in an effort to improve responses to climate change and sustainability.
Federal Ballarat MP Catherine King was among those who paid tribute to Mr May, describing him as a “fine man, a hard working and innovative citizen who gave much to his beloved community”.
“He was an extremely rational and focused community leader,” Ms King said. “It was always a pleasure to work with him in the interests of Hepburn and its people.”
Mr May’s wife was Mount Clear College teacher Vivien Hodgins, who tragically died in a tsunami that hit Samoa in 2009.
Mr May is survived by his two daughters, Steph and Carla.
Steph Hodgins-May stood as the federal Greens candidate in Melbourne Ports in 2016, almost defeating Labor frontbencher Michael Danby.
Mr May’s brother Greg is a sitting councillor for the Hepburn Shire Creswick Ward.