Little happened in Lockhart that Graham ‘Charlie’ Pertzel was not involved in.
The 54-year-old community stalwart died just after 7pm last Friday when a truck collided with his Mitsubishi on the Newell Highway.
The collision left Mr Pertzel’s wife, Elizabeth, in a critical condition.
“He put his hand up for everything, he was always there to help when it was needed,” said lifelong friend and captain of the fire department, Jamey Anderson.
Born in Lockhart, Mr Pertzel became friends with Mr Anderson when he moved to the town aged just 15.
“I’m devastated, it will take a while for the town to heal,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Pertzel had recently celebrated 30 years with Lockhart Fire and Rescue, where he had risen to the ranks of deputy co-captain.
He served as the director of the town’s ex-servicemen’s, leader of the anglers association, board member of the Demons football team, and the president of the fishing club.
“Charlie was the go-to guy in town. Everybody was good friends with Charlie and Charlie was good friends with everybody,” said fellow deputy fire captain Nick Mathews.
One of four children, Mr Pertzel is survived by his mother, siblings, three children and grandchildren – the youngest of whom was born only weeks ago.
“He was the best sort of man, a great mate and a great family man,” said Lockhart mayor Rodger Schirmer.
Before transitioning to the role of board member, Mr Pertzel played 371 matches for the Demons.
“He loved that club ever since he could walk,” said mayor Schirmer.
“The lost of anyone is a tragedy but Charlie was so highly regarded.
“In my role as mayor I’m concerned for the community, but I’m personally gutted. It was a huge shock to me, I feel a huge void.”
The 26-year-old truck driver has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, negligent driving occasioning death, and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
He has been granted conditional bail to appear at West Wyalong Local Court on October 25.