Chappy, the wild man with a big heart
A BELOVED dad and partner, son, a nature lover, adventurer, all-round entertainer - and someone who could connect with anyone.
These are some of the things cherished about the man everyone knew as "Chappy", the well-known Lennox Head local who passed away suddenly last week.
Born Robin Chapman in Wollongong in 1970, to Bob and Carol, "Chap" was a "real bushie kid" according to Bob, who quickly learned how to name every tree and bird and animal in the wilderness around his home.
He started in scouts from age seven, going on to earn the Queen's Scout Award and managing to climb the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains when he was 16.
Alongside the bush he had a twin love for the ocean, fulfilled through surfing, surf lifesaving, and helping track and protect sea birds.
After finishing school and spending a gap year running summer camps in the US, 20-year-old Chappy arrived on the North Coast in about 1990 to study environmental science at Southern Cross University.
Within three years he met his life partner Viv, with whom he would have two children, Keira and Jordan. He also became a step father to Viv's two children, James and Eloise Woods.
A devoted dad, Chappy attended every single game of son Jordan's football matches since he was four, travelling to as far as Kyogle for 7am kick offs - once even using his bush skills to light a camp fire to get the players warmed up.
He would also put his skills to good use making flying foxes and huge swings for the kids on special occasions.
A qualified arborist, he could fell trees and branches with accuracy, which helped him find a career with Essential Energy as a linesman.
Above all, Chappy was loved and well known because he was a people person.
"He was really good at connecting to people," partner Viv said. "He had time and he connected to people, he'd listen to what people had to say, and they'd listen back."
Bob Chapman joked that his son would "bring home a stray dog".
One of his favourite sayings when he'd meet people was "I can fish, fight, pull into long deep barrels, maybe you've heard of me, my name's Chappy."
A work mate told the family simply: "he made me laugh".
Chappy's funeral will be held on Friday at the Lennox Head Cultural and Community Centre and 1pm, followed by a wake at 3pm at the Lennox Bowlo.
A paddle out to honour what would have been Chappy's 100th day of straight surfing will be also be held around 4pm on Monday July 4 at the beach in front of the Lennox Head playground.