Chickenfeed founder dies after illness

ONE OF Tasmania's most influential businessmen, Rudie Sypkes, has died.

The 57-year-old had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic, incurable lung disease, and was admitted to hospital yesterday but died during the day. Mr Sypkes, 57, founded the Chickenfeed chain of stores in Tasmania.

He was also a member of Rotary and was a regular financial supporter of community groups around the State.

In 2007, Mr Sypkes donated $600,000 to assist research into respiratory medicine.

Last night, his brother Peter paid tribute to the warm and generous philanthropist.

"Rudie did have a high profile, but he was also a very generous man in many, many ways, like the donation he made hospital work," he said.

"But he was also a terrific family man, who will be very dearly missed."

Mr Sypkes is survived by his wife Beth, and children Andrew, Sharon and Luke.

Mr Sypkes's father Engel lives in Queensland but returned to Tasmania yesterday.

Engel emigrated to Tasmania from the Netherlands and founded the family business Purity.

Premier Paul Lennon last night issued a statement paying tribute to the prominent Tasmanian businessman.

"Rudie was a great champion for Tasmania and his entrepreneurial flair was an inspiration," he said.

Mr Lennon said his thoughts and best wishes of Government MPs were with Mr Sypkes's family and friends.