Community remembers Frank Bell, who died in south-west floodwaters

Macarthur farmer Frank Bell was most happy surrounded by family and friends sharing a tale, tinny or tune.

To those who loved him, he was a countryman at heart. A "grand master horseman", a "legend", a "cool dude".

The 84-year-old was reported missing on Wednesday after his white ute was found submerged in floodwaters in the south-west as three days of record-breaking rain turned the state's roads into rivers. 

His three dogs were found tied to the back of the ute. One had died.

More than 60 people from Macarthur's tight-knit community rallied around his wife, Jan, to help find the farmer, donating their food, support and time.

Such was the love for him, friends flew from Bendigo and drove in from other parts of the state to help in the search. 

Hope faded as the days past and it ended on Friday afternoon when his body was found in a Wallacedale dam.

Frank Bell with his wife Jan. Photo: Supplied

Frank Bell with his wife Jan. Photo: Supplied

"He was a rare kind," his granddaughter Danielle Williams said.

"He was happy with the simple things in life. He just loved people and enjoying moments with his family."

Mr Bell is survived by two children, Brendan and Mandy, and eight grandchildren.

His eldest son Stuart died after a battle with cancer six years ago.

But the "gentle soul's" loss will be felt wider than his immediate family with the horsing and surrounding country community also mourning his death.

His funeral is expected to be a "grand affair".

"He was everyone's granddad," Ms Williams said. "He had a giant heart."

On Friday night, his loved ones made a bonfire, put on his favourite country tunes and sat on horses recalling their best Frank stories.

"It was what he loved best," his grandson Josh Williams said.

"He loved his horses. He was really old but he still didn't mind a laugh and a beer."

Jen Vinge first met "Frankie" and his horse Creamy at campdraft meetings as a young teenager.

"He was a legend when we were kids," she said. "He was just a character. Everyone's probably got a story to tell about Frankie."

Ms Vinge can remember Mr Bell belting out songs by the campfire.

"He was a bit of an entertainer and a bush poet," she said.   

A Facebook post from campdraft mate remembered him fondly: "Another grand master horseman of the old school has rode his last mile."

– The Age

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