PHIL Jacobson APM has been remembered as 'a man who put others before himself' following his sudden passing this week.
A dedicated family man, community leader and decorated former police officer, the 59-year-old retired from duty as a Senior Constable last year after 41 years with the NSW Police Force.
Coffs Clarence Local Area Commander Mark Holahan said Phil's passing had devastated his immediate family, friends, the communities he served so selflessly and his police family.
"It is hard to understand why a good man is taken from us so early," Supt Holahan said.
"The worth of a person is not the length of time they live.
"It is how they live their life, the legacy they leave and whether they have been good and virtuous.
"Perhaps Phil would have changed a few small things, but not too much.
"His life, as short as it was, was rich and rewarding. Rising to meet personal tragedy, passing on his life experiences to others and his engagement with his community, a police officer of the calibre of Phil cannot be replaced.
"Goodbye old mate.
"Thank you for being all that you were for your community."
In 2009, Phil was awarded an Australian Police Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours for his work as a domestic violence liaison officer.
He was also a long-serving member of the Sawtell Surf Club, the Sawtell Golf Club, Apex and the Sawtell Panthers.
Born in Narromine and a gifted rugby league player, Phil played in the Eastern Suburbs Roosters' 1976 premiership-winning Under-23s side.
After five years in the job at Cobar, Phil settled in Sawtell with his wife Annette and their young family in 1983.
Friends say they realised Phil's true strength of character when as a single father he raised his five children.
In his last interview with The Advocate last September, Phil reflected on his family, career and retirement.
"Annette was 30 when she passed away and the kids were aged between 27 months and 13," Phil said.
"I owe a lot to my parents, who helped me raise the family, the police department was remarkable and the police commanders I served under allowed me to work split shifts and early mornings to spend that valuable time at home.
"Being a father is the best thing I've done in my life and I'm the proud grandfather of five.
"I would like to thank friends and acquaintances both in and outside the police for their support over the years. Thanks, I've really enjoyed the journey," he said at the time.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.