Mudgee character Rudolf Richard Ostritz died last week, leaving behind a legacy as one of Mudgee’s most recognisable and eccentric figures of the last 30 years.
Mr Ostritz was known around town for his deeply involved personal mythology, tying together the police, spy satellites, women, and other elements drawn from his experience of life over the last 80-odd years and the people around him in Mudgee.
By his own recounting, Mr Ostritz had a Czech background, was raised in Germany, and left the country before World War Two because of his mother’s Jewish heritage.
He said he had worked for the aircraft manufacturer Hawker de Havilland in Bankstown before his sister bought him a property near Mudgee in the late 1970s.
After he lost the property, Mr Ostritz lived in various locations around town before settling into two caravans at the local caravan park - one for him, and one for his books and papers.
He spent much of his time walking the streets armed with photocopies of his notes, visiting staff in local shops and walking alongside fellow pedestrians to share his warnings, theories and discoveries.
Although known locally as Rudy, Mr Ostritz thought the shortened form of his name was disrespectful, as it was used tauntingly by local children.
While his intense conversations were not always conveniently timed, the responses that followed Mr Ostritz’s death have been unanimously fond and suggest he will be remembered as an eccentric, well-known, and enduringly intriguing figure.
“He ruffled many feathers I’m sure, but always up for a chat with anyone, about anything from the colour of your hair to politics,” said Tammy Mangan. “I remember back in the day when I was blonde, he stopped me and told me blonde hair was too dangerous for a woman to have nowadays as it attracts the wrong attention from the wrong men.”
“Bless you and your secret codes,” said Karen Wilson. “Although you were eccentric and your thoughts were erratic you always remembered my name and loved my children - I will miss you terribly.”
Simon Staines said Mr Ostritz had been one of his earliest customers when he opened the Parkview Guesthouse in the mid-1980s, when he came in to wish Mr Staines luck and find out all about him.
“Then we got talking and I got to know him quite well, and I’d always stop to talk to him or he’d stop to talk to you,” he said.
Every so often at Christmas he said he would offer to buy a beer for Mr Ostritz, who would ask for a light beer so it wouldn’t cost so much, and only request a Coopers or a Boags Premium when Mr Staines assured him the price was no concern.
Debbie Baskerville said Mr Ostritz had been a frequent visitor to her office at the Rural Lands Protection Board since his early days in Mudgee, and singled her out as a focus for his stories and concerns.
“Most of all, I just listened and agreed with him; this seemed to calm him down,” she said. “He told me many stories, mostly about all his wives and the millions of dollars - I do believe he was once a very clever man.”
Will Paine first met Mr Ostritz in early 1981 when they were both picking fruit, and came to know him well over the ensuing decades, being dubbed ‘the Accountant’ by Mr Ostritz during his time as bookkeeper for the Salvation Army.
“For a long time, he turned up at Coles every Friday night at the time he knew I did the shopping and went all around the supermarket with me,” Mr Paine said.
“For somebody that so many people tried not to see, you still managed to remain visible,” said Nina Nyitrai. “You won’t be forgotten.”
Greg Dollin is working to organise a local memorial service for Rudolf Ostritz, and invites anyone interested in assisting or attending to contact him on 6372 1124.