The founder of Shellharbour's Roo Theatre Company is being remembered as "a glorious human" after succumbing to a short battle with cancer at the weekend.
Gordon Streek founded the community theatre company in 1987 and went on to steer the troupe from a Jamberoo community hall to the Addison Street institution it is today.
Tributes have been flowing in for the thespian and advocate for the arts on social media, from state politicians to professional performers to mums and dads whose children were guided by his encouragement.
"There must be thousands of people who would have been inspired by him in some way, he was a glorious human being, and i'll miss him terribly," film and television director Brendon McDonell told the Mercury.
He credits Streek's mentorship for his long-standing career in entertainment which he said would not have been possible if hadn't set foot in one of his church hall drama classes.
"Everyone was welcome, even if you didn't necessarily want to be on stage, there was also something for you to do behind the scenes," McDonell said. "There must be generations of kids who spent their entire childhood and teenage years jumping from show to show under Gordon's stewardship."
He was a wonderful man of art who really encouraged young ones to recognise the importance of it.Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba
Current director of the Roo, Josif Jovanovski , said without Streek there would be a "black hole"in the Illawarra arts scene as the company was "his brainchild".
"Gordon wanted to call it 'Roo' based on the idea of a kangaroo bouncing around the area - he wanted to take theatre around to different areas," Jovanovski said. "He drove everyone's motivation, he was honest ... and he was dedicated and loyal to the arts."
Their inaugural show was titled We Shall Work We Shall Live, a historical musical about Kiama and surrounds written by Streek and composed by John Suffolk.
Roo productions would travel to different community halls in Jamberoo, Berry, Kiama, Wollongong and Warrawong.
It moved into the converted Kiama Squash Courts in 1990, before settling at its current premises in 1994 leased from Shellharbour City Council.
Streek was an active member of the theatre company until 2017, working on a multitude of shows and inspiring many to follow their dreams.
"Gordon will be sadly missed, three of my children were all students of the Roo Theatre and all had a connection with him," Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba said. "He was a wonderful man of art who really encouraged young ones to recognise the importance of it."
Streek is survived by his long-time partner Colin Hollis.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.