Renowned chef dies in cycling crash tragedy
A COAST father whose skills as a chef and real estate agent garnered great respect is being remembered for his outgoing nature and generosity with his time.
Sunrise Beach man Gary Skelton, 56, died after sustaining serious injuries in a bicycle crash at Peregian Beach on Saturday.
Police believe Mr Skelton had been riding north along David Low Way when he lost control and crashed headfirst with a kerb at the Podargus Parade roundabout about 8.20am.
Officers said Mr Skelton died at the scene.
Floral tributes were visible at the road's edge on Sunday.
Mr Skelton left behind partner of 20 years Reni van Tiggelen and their children Luke, 15, and Ella, 9.
He also had older children Sam and Jacqui Skelton from a previous marriage to Tracey Skelton.
"Obviously he will be so missed," Ms van Tiggelen said.
"I know the kids will really miss him.
"It's too sad and so surreal."
She said police had come to her door about 12.30pm on Saturday.
It had taken them a while to identify Gary as he only had his phone with him on the ride and it was locked with a password.
"As soon as they said 'can you please sit down', I realised," Ms van Tiggelen said.
"Gary hadn't come home and we just thought he had gone to a friend's house for a coffee."
She said she had met Gary when she started working for him at Season Noosa restaurant in 1997, less than a year after he had opened it in its former upstairs Hastings St location.
"He was ahead of his time when he came up from Sydney," Ms van Tiggelen said.
She said he was the first in Noosa to have a no-smoking policy and no reservations.
"He was known as one of those grumpy chefs."
But she said his food and service was exemplary.
"He had an extremely good name."
She said they were together by the time Season moved across the road to its current beachfront location and he sold the business in 2003.
They had some time off before starting Harvest restaurant in Coolum Beach in 2005.
They sold it in 2009 before Gary helped Reni with her gluten-free bread business, Seed.
Close friend and colleague Nick Dowling, who is managing director of Colliers International Sunshine Coast, said Mr Skelton had asked him for a job in real estate in 2016 after Mr Dowling sold him and Ms van Tiggelen the Sunshine Beach General Store.
"Having worked in the restaurant industry, he knew everyone," Mr Dowling said.
He said Mr Skelton became a sales and leasing specialist in the Noosa area and had a particular talent for signing restaurant and cafe leases.
Mr Dowling said Mr Skelton was generous with his time and often helped out at Noosa Boardriders events, doing the behind-the-scenes work needed to keep volunteer organisations alive.
He said the call from Reni on Saturday, telling him of his friend's death, had been a complete shock.
"I just kept saying 'no'," Mr Dowling said.
"It hasn't really hit me yet."
Mr Dowling said his friend had been active, often in the water with his kids but also out running or playing soccer.
"I obviously had the utmost respect for Gary," he said.
"I considered him a work colleague and a friend."
Ms van Tiggelen said Gary had been inspired to cycle by a fit friend and had been riding about two or three times a week since the start of the year.
"It (along David Low Way to Coolum) was one of his favourite routes," she said.
Forensic Crash Unit investigators have called for anyone who witnessed Mr Skelton's crash to come forward with information.