'Strategic thinker' Ian Oelrichs remembered
A PILLAR of the Byron Shire community, Ian Oelrichs, OAM, died in a single vehicle accident when his car left the Hinterland Way at St Helena at 3.15am on Sunday morning.
It is believed Mr Oelrichs was driving himself to hospital following a stroke and that he was unconscious at the time of the crash.
"His death is a great loss to the community," said John Bennett, a friend and colleague at the business start-up support group Sourdough Think Tank - one of a host of local organisations Mr Oelrichs helped create.
He was also a co-founder of the Business Pathways Mentoring program, the Design Advisory Panel, the Nature Tourism Taskforce, the Northern Rivers Rail Trail and a coffee research project.
A landscape architect and urban designer by training, he had three terms on the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board and was closely tied to Southern Cross University.
His wife, Claire Oelrichs said Ian had been particularly proud to be involved in Keeping Our Freedom Youth (KOFY), a program to help young Aboriginal men in trouble with the law.
Mr Oelrichs was also active in a range of grand-scale projects internationally, including helping Syrian refugees in Jordan, developing a sustainable aid scheme in Afghanistan, and supporting conservation programs in Indonesia.
Mr Oelrichs, who would have turned 70 on Tuesday, settled in the Byron Shire hinterland more than 25 years ago and quickly became well known for his intelligence and unrestrained conceptual imagination.
"He was always at the forefront of the thinking," his friend Paul Jameson said.
"A great strategic thinker and visionary," said another collaborator.
Above all, he will be remembered as a "wonderful human being", KOFY founder Rob Hayes said, and for his capacity for friendship, kindness and unfailing generosity.
He was a familiar figure in the region's coffee shops, networking and mentoring.
and tirelessly sharing information on a plethora of subjects."
"He was an awesome character and I will miss him greatly," Mr Jameson said."
Mr Oelrichs is survived by Claire and two sons, Cooper and Dexter.