A WONDERFUL story of redemption has ended with the death of Garry 'Snowy' Herron at the age of 71.
The Albury resident spent decades as a homeless alcoholic before helping create the Carevan service which assists needy people across Australia with meals.
Carevan founder and chairman John Brabant met Mr Herron in 2009 when the latter was living at the Quamby House men's shelter and they became mates and collaborators.
"I always said if I could help just one person change their life then anything else would be a bonus and Snowy was the first one and everything else was a bonus and many people's hearts have been touched by his story," Dr Brabant said.
Mr Herron gave an insight into his painful life in an article with The Midweek Xpress newspaper in 2010.
"I couldn't handle life without the plonk," he said.
"Even before you went out somewhere you had to be half-charged to put up with society.
"The grog and losing jobs led to me ending up on the streets most of the time."
After four decades of travelling Australia and having been beaten up and endured seizures, Mr Herron said he decided "enough was enough" and threw himself into helping the Carevan Foundation which had provided "a new lease on life".
That enthusiasm saw him willing to speak to potential sponsors, tell school students about his life and sell raffle tickets in Dean Street.
Carevan's first general manager Jodie Tiernan said Mr Herron was integral to fostering the operation and his "real life stories hit home to a lot of people".
Mr Herron travelled to Wagga, Griffith, Wagga and western Sydney to help expand Carevan and was able to settle in a one-bedroom public housing flat.
"It was beautiful to see him get his own flat and he was so proud of what he achieved," Ms Tiernan said.
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Dr Brabant said Snowy, who gained his hair-related nickname at the age of 21 from a drinking buddy in Brisbane, was a tragic but also inspirational figure.
"Even though I don't think he came to peace with himself because of everything that happened during his life, I think he came to achieve a sense of identity and then was able to pass that on to other people and teach some lessons of life," Dr Brabant said.
"Everyone related to him and he was not only a volunteer he was the image of Carevan and what it was all about."
Mr Herron died on Wednesday at Borella House in Albury after recently being diagnosed with lung cancer and given 12 months to live.
His funeral will be at Lester and Sons in North Albury from 10am on Friday with Dr Brabant to deliver a eulogy.