Straight-talking. Big-hearted. Decent.
Those are some of the words used by others to describe Ken Little.
He is best known for owning a long-standing fruit and vegetable store in Port Macquarie.
But he is also widely respected for the huge amount of community work he does.
Recently he was named our senior citizen of the year.
But how much do you really know about him? What formed him and what makes him tick?
Ken Little grew up on a farm at Ben Lomond near Glen Innes.
He was the youngest child of 13.
When he was born his father Benjamin was 67-years-old, his mother Ada only 38.
His father had been left a widow with eight children with a farm to manage when his first wife died of cancer in the early 1940s.
Ken's mother (who had two children of her own) was hired to work on the farm, manage the house and look after the younger children.
Before long the two had fallen in love and had three more children, Jan, Benjamin and little Kenny.
It was a simple childhood. On the farm he learnt the value of hard work.
"From an early age before I went to school I would milk the cows, ride or walk 5km to school," he recalls. "Then after school I would round the cows up and separate the calves from their mothers so there would be milk for the next day. I also herded sheep."
The family moved to Port Macquarie when Mr Little was 10. He attended Port Primary School and Port Macquarie High School.
By his own admission he was an "average student". But what he lacked academically he made up with other skills.
"I was always really active and independent, I played a lot of sport, fished a lot, played football," he said.
The family didn't have a lot of money. His parents were on the old age pension.
"All the money I got I had earned from the time I was eight or nine," Mr Little said.
"My parents never gave me anything because they couldn't afford to."
When he was not playing sport or surfing he spent his weekends picking fruit to earn money.
Towards the end of school he also began to notice girls.
Mr Little met his wife Judy at the Kempsey showground when he was only 17.
"I liked her straight away, she smiled a lot, we got on," he said.
He acknowledges it was easier to meet a partner back then but they were fortunate to find each other.
When he left school he headed for Sydney like most young people.
He had hoped to be a property evaluator but it didn't work out. He didn't like the city and missed the beach too much.
Before long he was back in Port Macquarie, working in the fruit and veg department at Woolworths. Ironically, it was with one of his main competitors that his passion for the trade started.
He set up Ken Little's Fruit and Veg in 1983. The small business originally run out of the Colonial Arcade.
Disaster struck when Port Central was built. The road closures in Hay Street, loss of parking and heavy vehicle use in the area proved disastrous.
"We lost 85 per cent of our trade in a year," he said. "I was stunned and devastated. I wondered if I could keep the business going and rebuild."
The business almost went bust and Judy went back to nursing to keep the family afloat. Difficult decisions were made but eventually they moved the business to Munster Street in 1996.
The business started thriving but then in 2007 disaster hit again when a deliberately lit fire ripped through the store.
"Again I was thinking can I rebuild?" he said.
"After lots of soul searching we decided to keep the business going for ourselves as we had put so much into it over the years, our staff and loyal customers," he said.
"We were able to gradually build the business up again and pay our bills."
The business now employs 45 staff and focuses on "giving customers what they want".
His marriage to Judy has sustained him during difficult times.
"Like any marriage we have our ups and downs," he said. "But we enjoy each other's company and we end up working things out.
"Sometimes you just need time and patience. We are different in a lot of ways, she is very artistic, and I love to watch and play sport. We don't try and change each other and the differences work."
He is proud but humble about his children's achievements. All have followed their passions.
Eldest son Nigel holds a PhD in history and works for the Office of National Intelligence in Canberra.
His second son Daniel is a talented former photographer. He is Ken's right hand man in the store.
Daughter Naomi has travelled the world and currently lives in Denmark with her daughter working in marketing and design for an IT company.
"Do you know what the cloud is?" he asks The Port News quizzically.
Life can be difficult so how has Ken Little survived with such a sunny attitude?
"I've had a good life," he said.
"I try to enjoy all the simple things in life, I feel as though I live in paradise, I don't take anything or anyone for granted."
He holds fast to some principles his father taught him: "Do unto others as you do unto yourself and if you have nothing nice to say about someone say nothing."
He is involved in a range of sporting and community groups, he has been a mentor, coach, fundraiser. What advice does he give the many young people he encounters?
"Try and stay positive," he said. "When you fall down pick yourself up, remember every problem has a solution no matter how bad it is.
"Be a doer not a gonna, there are a lot of people in this world who make a loud noise that they are going to do this and going to do that but do nothing."
The Port News series is called In My Life. We meet people of the Hastings and ask them what they have learnt in their lives. If you have a suggestion for the series email firstname.lastname@example.org
More from the In My Life Series:
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