From treading the boards at Maitland Repertory Theatre to penning books and working as a code breaker during World War II - there wasn't much Ernest 'Doug' Pyle OAM had not done.
The Maitland Repertory stalwart of more than 70 years, long time Bolwarra Heights resident, water divining demonstrator and self described pacifist, passed away recently aged 96.
His death leaves a huge void in the Maitland community which has now lost one of its most colourful, complex and creative characters.
Maitland Repertory Secretary Ian Robinson said Mr Pyle's contribution to Maitland's community was outstanding and exceptional.
"Doug also acted on stage and worked behind the scenes," Mr Robinson said. "He was the theatre's first Stage Manager and carried out that role for the theatre's first play Tons of Money in November 1947. During the early years Doug met his future wife Nell at the theatre.
"He used his technical and creative skills to achieve many effects at the theatre. These included making a bear trap, a coffin, having a canoe paddle across the stage, elevator doors that worked, a swing that went right across the stage and getting a Mini Minor on stage at our theatre and a Baby Austin car on stage at the town hall."
Mr Pyle was awarded life membership of the theatre in 1988. He was last on stage when he played the role of Jarvis Huntley-Pike in A Chorus of Disapproval in 2000.
In 2016 Mr Pyle was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (matching his wife's 2005 OAM) for his involvement and service to various community groups and events in Maitland.
Aside from his work in local theatre, Mr Pyle was a foundation member of the Australian Clothing and Textiles Museum and a period costume model for more than 50 years.
He had 70 years experience as a water divining demonstrator at Tocal open days and volunteered at the Homestead Visitors Centre.
Mr Pyle was a volunteer and regular speaker at Friends of Our Library in Maitland and a member of Friends of Tocal.
And fittingly, he was farewelled on Wednesday at Tocal Homestead. He is survived by his wife Nell, children Andrew, Lucy and Matthew, his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
In a Mercury report about his book in 2014, Mr Pyle remembered his band of code-breakers being 30 strong when they had one of their first reunions after the war. "There are fewer than 10 of us left now but I am proud of the work we all did. We helped to win the war that I believe we had to win and I firmly believe that all free societies must continue to keep ahead in the intelligence game."