South Australian businessman Peter Teakle has been remembered as an “entrepreneurial, fun-loving, passionate patriarch” after his unexpected death at 72. 

His son, Ben, said his family was in shock after the wine-label printing magnate died in his sleep on Friday.

Ben and Peter Teakle at the Line & Label restaurant in Port Lincoln.(Supplied)

“Dad’s health declined more rapidly than we expected, and he passed away quite suddenly,” he said.

“We will remember him as the entrepreneurial, fun-loving, passionate patriarch of our family. In his life, he had many chapters.”

Life as a businessman

Mr Teakle made his fortune printing wine labels, transforming his family’s Adelaide business, Collotype Labels, into a global multi-million-dollar company.

A young Peter Teakle at the family printing business.(Supplied)

“When his grandfather, Gilbert, ran the company, it had a staff of 12.

“When Roy [Mr Teakle’s father] was in charge, staff numbers were about 40 and when Dad sold the business in 2007, it had grown to over 450 staff,” he said.

Journey to Port Lincoln

After sailing his yacht in the Adelaide to Port Lincoln race with his wife in 1986, Mr Teakle was so impressed with the Eyre Peninsula fishing town that he decided it would be the perfect place for his impending semi-retirement.

Mr Teakle never fully retired. In 2017, he opened a fine-dining restaurant, The Line & Label, which also has its own cellar door.

Peter Teakle Wines in Port Lincoln is a 30-hectare estate with a restaurant and cellar door.(Supplied: Peter Teakle Wines)

In Port Lincoln, the entrepreneur donated millions of dollars to various community initiatives, ranging from local charities to an elaborate bronze bugler memorial to honour servicemen from the region.

Special presence 

Port Lincoln Mayor Diana Mislov said Mr Teakle’s presence brought a “sense of gravitas” to a room.

“I found him to be the most generous man, not just with his funds but his time. He always took his time to have a chat and be genuine and caring about what was going on in people’s lives,” she said.

“For me, that’s the honest mark of a life well-lived and a good human being. From a community perspective, he will be sorely missed.

“Everyone will relate to Peter and his emu-feathered hat … I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Port Lincoln car enthusiast Hagen Zerk said he became friends with Mr Teakle after a conversation about motorsports led to him sponsoring an ambitious street car race around the town, where he drove his Ferrari.

Peter Teakle chats to Emma Pedler after the Teakle Auto Sprint in Port Lincoln.(Supplied)

“He trusted us to make it happen … he was someone [who] actually saw our vision and he backed us,” Mr Zerk said.

“He’s done it with a lot of people in this town; he has seen people’s vision and makes things come to life.”

Steamboat captain

His vision and influence spread to the Riverland in the 1990s when he bought a farm on the Murray River, Akuna Station, and became involved in viticulture.

“Over the next 10 years, he spent time growing award-winning grapes on his 40-hectare plot of vines. He won an IBIS award for conservation for planting hundreds of trees,” Ben said.

He said his father also bought and captained an 1876 riverboat paddle-steamer, the PV Amphibious (renamed the Akuna Amphibious), during this period.

Peter Teakle restored the PV Amphibious, formerly the second-oldest wooden boat in Australia.(ABC Riverland: Catherine Heuzenroeder)

Renmark historian Jackson Wickham said Mr Teakle purchased the 124-year-old vessel in 1999.

“He had the passion and the vision,” he said.

“It’s not just anyone [who] can rebuild a multi-million-dollar paddleboat and make it stand out among the heritage fleet of authentic boats on the river.”

He said Mr Teakle had paid for various upgrades and improvements along the Murray River to help fellow paddle-steamers.

Mr Teakle travelled thousands of kilometres up and down the Murray River.(Supplied: Jackson Wickham)

Mr Wickham said Mr Teakle had influenced his paddle-steamer captain practices despite never meeting him.

“Peter had a knack for understanding the boat and the river and was especially good at being able to articulate that understanding to others,” he said.

“Many of the ways he explained situations of boat handling or reading the river I still use to explain to others today.”

A life well-lived

Ben said the “outpouring of support” and kind messages following his father’s death was evidence of a life well-lived.

“Dad touched so many lives in the wine industry, the sailing community, Adelaide, Hamilton Island, and Port Lincoln, and we are so grateful for the well wishes we have received,” he said.

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