In death, surf lifesaving stalwart Keith 'Cocky' Caldwell was still saving lives.
Through organ donation, the Bulli SLSC president was able to give the gift of life to others, and his wife Maria says that's just what he would have wanted.
His death in May after two massive strokes was sudden and heartbreaking, she says, yet the decision to donate his organs was surprisingly "cathartic".
"We'd talked about organ donation and I knew his thoughts were 'you can't take them with you, why not help someone else," Mrs Caldwell said on Wednesday.
"For me, and my family, it was cathartic - we knew it was what he would have wanted. After 45 years of lifesaving, he was saving lives to the end.
"It was his last selfless decision, his last chance to help his community and his greatest gift of all."
Mr Caldwell first joined the Bulli SLSC in his teens, served 30 years with the NSW Police, and was president of the club for 17 years.
He was a life member of not only Bulli SLSC, but of Surf Life Saving Illawarra, Surf Lifesaving NSW, and in 2021 was recognised as a life member of Surf Lifesaving Australia.
Thousands of people gathered for his memorial service at Kembla Grange Racecourse in June, with a paddle out later held at Bulli beach for a man who "served others above and before himself" according to Bulli's deputy president Dean Dudley.
Mrs Caldwell said because of her husband's organ donation, two people on the nation's transplant wait list received a new kidney.
"Another person received his liver and while they later had to have another transplant, it gave them vital time," she said.
"His musculoskeletal tissue, including heart valves, bone, tendons, ligaments and skin, have been stored at the NSW Tissue bank.
"And while his heart and lungs were suitable for transplantation, because of his rare blood type it was too hard to find a match."
During DonateLife Week, Mrs Caldwell urged others to register as an organ and tissue donor, and to let loved ones know of their decision.
"We were married for 38 years, I knew his wishes," she said. "I can only imagine how confronting it would be for many in this situation - where your loved one's death is sudden and unexpected.
"Even for me, I couldn't tick every box - I couldn't tick the box to donate his eyes. I wanted to be able to say to our grandchildren 'Poppy's looking down on you'.
"The process was daunting when you are going through such a sad time but the reward of knowing lives can be changed for the better gives you great comfort.
The hospital staff and donor organ nurse at Royal Princes Alfred Hospital, Sydney, were wonderful and were with us through every step of the donation process.
"Afterwards, DonateLife follow up with the family and free counselling is offered to the family."
Mr Caldwell leaves behind Maria, their son Jamie and wife Alicia, daughter Natalie and partner Nathan, and four (soon to be five) grandchildren.
"Our grandkids know poppy's organs were given to someone else and DonateLife gave us a beautiful kids' book which explained it," Mrs Caldwell said.
There are currently 1800 Australians waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. This year, DonateLife is holding The Great Registration Race for DonateLife Week - register at donatelife.gov.au/register.
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