HE WAS "the smile that lit up any dark mood", always putting others before himself and had dreams of one day running a sprawling herb and vegie garden sourcing the local restaurants and cafes with fresh produce.
He was a devoted husband, a caring and loyal friend to many, a hard-working Hastings Deering manager and lover of sci-fi movies.
But to Sheldon Gakowski's three boys, he was simply the best dad in the world.
Sheldon died at the weekend, after a tough but hard-fought battle with a rare stomach cancer.
As reported in the Daily Mercury, the Bucasia family was determined to make the most of the time they had left with their husband and dad, with Suzanne and boys Krystopher, Matthew and Lukas making the month of August the most memorable and fun possible.
Leading up to the community celebration that came on August 23 for Sheldon's 43rd birthday, Suzanne asked the community to send her husband birthday cards - and they came in their thousands from Mackay, all corners of Australia and even overseas.
Brother-in-law to Sheldon, Zander Tait issued a statement on Saturday afternoon:
"On behalf of Suzanne, Krystopher, Matthew and Lukas and the rest of the family we wish to inform everyone that after a long and courageous battle, Sheldon succumbed to his disease and passed away today. He was surrounded by his family and was comfortable and at peace. We would like to once again recognise and thank the overwhelming amount of kindness and support shown in these past months. The kindness displayed has made this journey all the more memorable in such a positive way..."
Speaking to Sheldon at his 43rd birthday celebration at Bucasia, his message to others was to treasure each day and spend it with those you love.
"You know I was told I only had two to three months (in March), so every day we've had since is a blessing," Sheldon said at the time.
"It's hard to get out of bed some days... but to see the amount of support we have is incredible."
Paying tribute to her husband on her blog 'And then Suddenly' on Father's Day, Suzanne said Sheldon was her "favourite human being".
"I loved everything about him," she wrote.
"The flaws and monumental stuff ups that humbled him and softened his heart. The strength and capacity to dream bigger that I've ever dared to.
"I guess the thing I loved the most... the thing I will miss the most is how he was such a great dad.
"It's too hard to think about our sons being without him... And today. On Father's Day. You aren't here."
Sheldon's funeral will be held at 1pm on Thursday, September 10 at the New Life Christian Church, 75 Evans Avenue, North Mackay.
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