ABOUT 200 people, including the 28 members of the Tweed Coast Rescue Squad, farewelled one of their own at Melaleuca Station Memorial Gardens today.
Bob Counter, a founding member of the squad, died last Thursday after a two-month battle with a mystery illness.
The squad was there in force to honour a man whose tireless efforts helped to build the rescue service from where it was in 1972 to now.
Squad captain John Gracie said that his "mate" was a statesman.
"When it came to Tweed rescue Bob had a knack," Mr Gracie said.
"He hand-selected us and he trained us."
Mr Gracie said Mr Counter helped the rescue squad move on from operating from a box trailer in the 1970s into a squad with its own building, four vehicles and $250,000 worth of equipment.
Mr Counter's son Mark gave mourners a taste of the family's life at home.
"He would come home and tell mum he was off visiting his girlfriends," Mark said.
"It was only when I was older that I learnt why mum didn't get upset.
"He would visit and sit with the 80-year-old widows for tea and a chat."
Mark said his father never brought the troubles of being a rescue squad member home.
"I hoped he talked to my mother or the guys from the rescue squad because he never burdened us with his troubles.
"Goodbye Dad. You touched us all in your own unique way."