Bobby Storey was literally and figuratively a giant among republicans.
And when the chroniclers come to write the definitive history of the IRA, Storey's admirers and foes will agree that no name will be writ larger than that of the New Lodge Road six-footer who towered over everyone else in the Provisionals' ranks in stature and strategising prowess.
The 64-year-old, who died after an unsuccessful lung transplant operation, brought terror to the streets and into the hearts of not only police and soldiers, but also of republicans who knew from his reputation and his demeanour that he wasn't someone to be trifled with.
The hardest of hard men was blamed by the security forces and hailed by his own people - for helping to mastermind two of the most 'celebrated' headline-grabbing events in the IRA's activities during the Troubles.
The RUC, who rarely made any secret of their hatred for Storey, had no doubt that he was one of the planners behind the Provos' mass breakout from the Maze in 1983 when 38 terrorists escaped after a prison officer was killed.
Storey later described the escape as a "great achievement" for the IRA, who he said had "shafted Margaret Thatcher".
Detectives were also convinced that Storey was the principle organiser of the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004 that netted the IRA £26million.
But he was never charged in connection with it.
And although he spent a total of 20 years behind bars, Storey had an uncanny record of eluding convictions on a litany of other terrorist charges down the years.
Police claimed witnesses were too scared in some cases to testify against him.
But Sinn Fein claimed police operated a policy of internment by remand for Storey who was a lifelong republican from a republican family.
Talking about his life in a rare interview, Storey said his family had to move when he was a child from their north Belfast home after loyalist attacks on their area.
And he claimed that it was the bombing of McGurk's bar, where 15 people were killed in 1971 and Bloody Sunday just a few months later, that shaped his future, prompting him to join the IRA at the age of 16.
Within a year, he was interned without charge and after his release, he was accused of blowing up a hotel near Aldergrove airport and though he was freed on the day of his trial, he was re-arrested and charged with a gun attack.
He was later cleared of that, too, and subsequently acquitted on a series of other charges, one of which followed his arrest in London in 1979 when he was alleged to have conspired to help republican Brian Keenan to escape from Brixton prison.
But in August 1981, Storey was finally convicted of a terrorist offence and he was jailed for 18 years on arms charges after a soldier was shot.
Then came the Maze escape and Storey, who had been quickly re-captured, was given an extra seven years.
He was freed in 1994, but two years later, he was charged with having information on the Lord Chief Justice.
Storey was in the Maze in 1998 when journalists, including me, were allowed into the prison to talk to loyalists and republicans in advance of a visit by Secretary of State Mo Mowlam, who wanted inmates to back the peace process.
Three IRA prisoners, including the OC Padraig Wilson, were designated to talk to reporters, but Storey sat quietly on his own.
He was, I recalled at the time, a man apart but a man who was very much a part of the set-up.
When he was asked by a reporter why there was no television in that part of the republican wing, he replied that TV wasn't good for conversation.
After he was freed again in line with the Good Friday Agreement, Storey quickly resumed his place at the top of the republican table on the outside.
He claimed he was a peacemaker, but he was repeatedly arrested for questioning about past incidents involving the IRA, including the theft of security files from Castlereagh in 2002 and about the Northern Bank robbery.
In 2005, Unionist MP David Burnside used parliamentary privilege to name Storey as the IRA's head of intelligence.
He was questioned in 2014 about the disappearance of Jean McConville, whose body had been found at a beach in County Louth eleven years earlier.
And the following year, he was also held over the murder of Belfast republican Kevin McGuigan, but again he was released without charge.
He famously appeared at a news conference after he was freed and as the Northern chairman of Sinn Fein, said the Provos had been stood down, likening the IRA to a caterpillar that had become a butterfly and "flew away".
He also revealed that as he left Antrim police station, he was warned of a death threat against him.
Storey was frequently by the side of Gerry Adams and described him as "a dynamic leader, the best known Irishman in global terms".
Even though he had such a fearsome past and physique, Storey also had a softer side.
At a talent contest I hosted in west Belfast some years ago, he and his mother watched with pride as Storey's brother Brian, who had Down's syndrome, stole the show as an Elvis impersonator.
Several years later as he sat in front of me on a flight from Malaga after coming under the suspicious gaze of some fellow passengers, Storey remembered the competition and talked about his brother at length.
We discussed our holidays, our families and the discomfort of flying for tall men like us.
We did not mention the war.