DECATUR, Il. (WAND) -- The Rock Springs Nature Center is reeling after he sudden loss of executive director Richie Wolf.

"Sadness, disbelief all of those emotions that you deal with," Karen Schneller, president of the Macon County Conservation District, said. "He was very much loved and It's like a small family out there so it's a big loss for everyone."

Those who knew Richie say he was a compassionate human being.

"Richie was an engaging person -- he was always kind, always outward looking in his relationships," Schneller said. "He always knew how to bring people in and make them feel comfortable, he had a gift for that."

Wolf's greatest gift was passion for nature.

"He created such magic in nature and made people realize that central Illinois beautiful," Schneller said. 

Wolf took over as Executive Director of the nature center in 2019 He made a lasting impact on several programs. His biggest -- expanding the children's adventure program to an all day, all week event.

"He's created a whole pack of eco-savy kids who are going to grow up and take care of the earth," Schneller said.

The Macon County Conservation district will begin their search next week to find their next executive director -- that person will carry on many programs that Richie started -- like canoeing on the Sangamon river and the summer concert series.

"We won't replace that particular person because he's unique and one of a kind, but we will find another leader and things will carry on and part of carrying on is our promise to him, we won't let any of the things that he's done fall to the waste side," Schneller said.

Wolf's cause of a death is unkown. Paul Merian has been named the interim executive director.

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