John Foss, at right, with friends.
John Foss, at right, with friends.

Tributes for hit-run victim Foss

TRIBUTES continue to pour in for Ocean Shores cyclist John Foss who died after a hit and run near Mullumbimby this week.

The eccentric Irish expat left an indelible impression on the lives of many whose paths he crossed.

The 60-year-old inventor was a passionate volunteer at Brunswick's Marine Rescue and pioneered a motorised bicycle business, building customised Fosscatis - around which he created a mythical character, Giacomo Fosscati and a whole imagined narrative. You didn't just buy a Fosscati, he "allowed" you to own one - if you were lucky.

His range included the Fosscati Billinudgel Bullet, the Indian Pacific, the Chincogan Climber and the Tyagarah Tiger.

Former Sotheby's auctioneer Robert Bleakley knew John better than most, both overseas and in Australia, having first met him 28 years ago.

"He was an amazing guy as demonstrated by the way he's endeared himself to so many people since he's lived on the Northern Rivers," he said.

"His enormous intellect was sometimes concealed by his boyish playfulness - he could really muck around big-time and he was just enormous fun to have around.

John became a virtual stepfather to Mr Bleakley's son, now in his late 20s.

"He was also a hilarious drinker - even plastered he could spend 40 minutes reciting some great Irish ode word perfect, but it got the better of him and he moved to the North Coast about 10 years ago to get sober.

"When he got sober through the Buttery he became a huge asset in the community through his marine rescue work and the help he gave others recovering from substance abuse."

Builder Graeme Miller remembers a dedicated perfectionist who spent hours in his workshop. "Years back I had this vintage Ducati and he just loved it - particularly the precision engineering - so I imagine that's how he ended up calling his bikes Fosscatis," he said.

"But he loved his rescue work - the decency of helping people and the excitement. If he wasn't doing that he was building his bikes - he was so adamant about the quality he wouldn't sell them to people he didn't think would look after them.

"I'm still in shock, it's so hard to fathom, just when he was getting settled he gets hammered."

Unit Commander of Marine Rescue Brunswick Owen Danvers said it was a huge loss to the crew, describing John as an integral part of the team who would be difficult to replace.

Through all his outrageous exploits, it was one of John's reflections to several friends in his final weeks that best epitomises the depth of loss.

"My life is so perfect now - it's like a perfect movie and all I need to do is provide the background music."

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