PHIL Borchard died on Saturday after an 18-month battle with a rare form of cancer.
When diagnosed in 2012 he was given four months to live.
His wife Glenda thanked the many members of the Shoalhaven community for their support and the fund-raising she said helped extend his life.
“His was a full life, he was involved in so many things and was well known throughout the community,” Mrs Borchard said.
Mr Borchard was a prominent member of the Shoalhaven RFS, a leading ecologist and a keen surfer.
“In the last five years he had been continually researching and producing articles in Australian and international journals of ecology in regard to his passion and love of wombats.
“The focus of his ecological work related specifically to the management of wombats in the landscape and their interaction with people.
“His fascination with wombats started when he was working with the Department of Agriculture on a trial plot at Bundanon.
“His tractor went down a wombat hole and from then he started looking into managing this native animal that is viewed as a pest by those involved in agriculture.
“That research led him to complete a land management degree, for which he received first-class honours and a grant to enable him to undertake a PhD.
“Ecology was a continuing passion for him. Just last week one of his articles in conjunction with top Australian ecologist David Eldridge was accepted to run in an international journal.
“Even through his illness he continued his research and study. I think the hardest thing for him was realising he could not continue what he loved,” she said.
The couple moved to the Shoalhaven 25 years ago, settling at Sussex Inlet.
They then moved to Tapitallee, where Mr Borchard joined the Cambewarra Rural Fire Brigade.
For the past 10 years they lived at Shoalhaven Heads.
They raised two sons, Jay and Jack.
With the Rural Fire Service Mr Borchard was employed as the Shoalhaven fire mitigation officer, a role that introduced him to many people in the region.
“In his RFS job he was well known and highly regarded. He was known as a man of integrity and trust but also for his humour,” Mrs Borchard said.
“People genuinely loved Phil.
“The RFS has been a tremendous support to us in more ways than one.
“The other part of his life was his great passion for surfing and the ocean.
“His number one love was the ocean. He belonged to a long board club at Gerroa and spent a huge chunk of his life surfing.”
Relatives and friends are invited to attend his funeral at Riversdale on Monday, February 17 at 11am.
A private family burial will be held afterwards at the West Cambewarra Cemetery.