THE Gin Gin community is mourning the loss of a "patient and gentle" man who was found dead in bushland at the weekend after he went missing from an aged care facility.
Leonard George Lawrence, 88, was reported missing from the Kolan Gardens home where he had lived for the past eight weeks, shortly after noon on Friday.
Bundaberg police Inspector Kev Guteridge said a preliminary search failed to locate Mr Lawrence.
"The search was then ramped up and included members of the SES and the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter," he said.
More than 100 volunteers helped police with the search, including horse riders from three Gin Gin horse sporting clubs, who combed the area for any trace of the elderly man.
CCTV from a service station on the northern end of the town captured Mr Lawrence walking quickly towards the Gin Gin Walking Trail at Black Gully.
"The search was stood down at last light on Friday, and was resumed at first light on Saturday morning," Insp Guteridge said.
It was near the trail that Mr Lawrence's body was found lying in tall guinea grass about 7.30am on Saturday.
"He had a number of medical conditions, but police are unsure if any of those contributed to his death," Insp Guteridge said.
Mr Lawrence's death is not being treated as suspicious, and police are preparing a report for the coroner.
A spokeswoman for the family, Alana Lawrence, said her father-in-law had been a "patient and gentle" man, whose mainstay in life was his unwavering faith in God.
"His life was lived in a way that he was always ready to help others, and the fact that his life ended in the way it did, with so many of the community and emergency services involved, is not lost on his family," she said.
Mr Lawrence is survived by his three sons, Denis, Byron and Mervyn.
His wife, Win, died 15 years ago. They had been married for 49 years.
"Len loved being outdoors, he loved to garden and chip out nuisance weeds - his chip hoe was his most used tool," Mrs Lawrence said.
"He loved going to the farm at Dallarnil, where he was raised to help in any way he could."
It is believed Mr Lawrence suffered a stroke in recent months and moved into the aged care home in Mulgrave St.
"We hope and pray that his same example of faith, resilience, hard work - but most of all love - will live on through us, his family, for years to come," she said.
"The Lawrence family would like to thank everybody who has supported us in so many ways as we searched for our much-loved dad, grandad and great-grandad."
Mr Lawrence's carers at Kolan Gardens have also paid tribute to the "quiet and gentle" man who loved the bush.
"The first thing that anyone says about Len is that he loved being in the bush - that was his whole life," service manager Leonie Raven said.
"He worked hard all of his life - at the local sugar mills as well as having a pineapple farm."
Mrs Raven said Mr Lawrence took great comfort in his religion, and was often seen reading his Bible or at times, talking quietly to God.
"We are very sad, as Mr Lawrence was a well-loved resident," she said.
"Our prayers are with his family and with our staff at Kolan Gardens who were caring for Mr Lawrence."
Division 3 councillor Wayne Honor said the Lawrence family was well known in Gin Gin for the work they did within the community.
"The experience I've had with the family, they didn't look for accolades," he said.
"It's their time of need now."
It is expected that Mr Lawrence's funeral will be held this week at the Gin Gin Community Church.
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