To most people who knew him he was a quiet, gentle man who would always offer a cheery wave and give you the time of day.
Few of his neighbours in the rural Oxfordshire villages where David Kelly lived and liked to ramble were aware that he was "a significant person" - that was until his televised appearance before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
Only days later, those same neighbours and friends are reeling from the shock that his body has been found on one of the routes he liked to walk along.
The area is known as a beauty spot
At Westfield, the large Cotswold stone cottage that Dr Kelly shared with his wife Janice in Southmoor, near Faringdon, police now stand guard.
They are accompanied by a group of photographers, lenses pointed towards the gated address in Faringdon Road.
Across the road at the Waggon and Horses pub, the front terrace is filled with reporters speaking hastily in to mobile phones.
Those not in the know, stop and stare, or walk past in wonderment at why this house and least of all this little, one-street village, has suddenly become so newsworthy.
The pub's landlady Lindsey Atkins said Dr Kelly had been a drinker there, but did not want to say much more.
"We just wish the family all the best. We didn't know him well, but he did come in occasionally. He was our neighbour and we smiled at him across the road," she said.
Further along Faringdon Road, Jenny Odwin, said she was "so sad" about Dr Kelly.
Coming to the door with her children, she said: "We saw him going about his daily walks. He always had a newspaper under his arm.
"We just used to say hello. He was very quiet, very polite. It's so sad.
"When you see this happening, it brings a sadness on to you. People have said to me that they didn't know he was such a significant person.
"We never knew what he did. I think the village will all stick together and support the family because it is a small neighbourhood."
And small Southmoor is. Further along Faringdon Road, a main thoroughfare which seems to divide the village, are a few shops - the Log Cabin newsagents, Southmoor Food and Wine and Aquarius hair studio. A public phone and Esso garage add to the amenities.
About 40 minutes walk and only a few miles away is Longworth, an even quieter village reached across the busy A420 road, and where, at Harrowdown Hill, Dr Kelly's body was found.
Its focus is the Blue Boar pub on Cow Lane, which is a pretty road, butted by cottages, some wisteria clad, others with ivy. There are trees, a weeping willow and elderflowers. The scene is tranquil.
On Friday, press officers from Thames Valley Police led reporters to a vantage point on a bridlepath a few hundred yards away from the copse where the body lay.
Mr Kelly: Well-liked by neighbours
The arrival of suited journalists, a satellite truck and all the high-tech paraphernalia of the working hack, looked incongruous in the countryside.
Police officers in their green fluorescent jackets could be seen dotted around adjacent fields. A police helicopter hovered overhead as we looked at the tree-lined bridleway which led to Dr Kelly's final resting place.
The intermittent drizzle stopped as we arrived. Two jets passed through the grey skies above, probably en route to the Fairford Air Show in Gloucestershire.
A 34-year-old local man, who did not want to be named, said the copse was very thick with no footpath and was used for hunting pheasant with dogs.
"It's a little bit eerie in there. It is really thick and brambly and it's not somewhere I'd walk out to.
"The field right by it was cut only yesterday."
Police are on duty at Dr Kelly's home
Back at the Blue Boar, Ann Lewis, Dr Kelly's neighbour, stood at the bar and said: "I'm devastated frankly, particularly because they were such a close family, a lovely family.
"He was a quiet man. He always enquired about my daughter and my family. He was a man who would show great care and concern for others.
"We were neighbours in the village and we would chat quite often and talk about life.
"Obviously it is a tragedy for his family whatever the circumstances.
"People will feel a great sadness. He didn't speak about his business. He never discussed his work."
Craig Foster, 36, the Blue Boar's landlord, said he knew Dr Kelly as a quiet man who occasionally visited for a drink.
"He was a very quiet chap. He used to walk around here quite a lot. He has been in here with his wife and family.
"It's tragic news. It is just very sad really because he was a very well-liked chap."
It is a sentiment shared, it seems, by most people he met.