It is with a heavy heart that I share the news of the passing of a true industry icon Nadia Soutar who passed away peacefully at home with her family by her side on February 18, aged 75.
I would like to share a few words with you that will always conjure up images of Nadia: kindness, love, resilience, understanding and morality.
Sadly, these traits are becoming a little more difficult to find these days.
Nadia was born in Germany after her parents escaped the war-torn Ukraine.
As so many immigrants from that era have done, Nadia’s father made the brave move to come to Australia and set up a new life for his family.
But first he had to endure 12 months of solitude without them before they could join him here in Australia and make a life.
Something that never ceases to amaze me about that generation. Instead of growing up with a sense of entitlement, a young Nadia decided to give something back to her new country and joined the Army and do her part for Australia and contribute to society, something she would do for the rest of her life.
In 1974, a slightly younger Andy sat in his W Model while held over in Alice Springs and wrote a letter to the love of his life, telling her that when he finally arrives home he would do two things, marry her and come off the highway.
Andy did both, although the coming off the highway did take another 21 years. Nadia waited patiently for her man to come home, that was the character of this wonderful lady.
For an owner-driver, the road transport industry is one of the toughest there is.
Yet Andy and Nadia still managed to achieve great success in their venture.
There is a very old saying that “a man is only as good as the women behind him”.
Nothing could be truer of Nadia. While maintaining a home, she managed to raise three kids, balance the books and spend many, many lonely nights at home waiting for her hard-working husband to return home.
I can remember many a phone call between my mother and Nadia when we were all kids and Andy and my dad were out on the road.
They would talk for hours. There would often be tears over the loneliness, bills that needed to be paid, us kids playing up (mainly me) the list went on.
While the men worked like dogs to support their families and provide for them in the best way they knew how, the wives back home made an equal sacrifice, something that Nadia took with grace, patience, and resilience.
Nadia was an owner-driver’s wife in every sense of the word, sometimes packing the kids in the car and meeting Andy out of Brisbane to guide him in with a “heavy one on”.
The trademark black and silver Soutar Kenworths would be at the Brisbane markets about 50 Sunday mornings a year unloading produce from South Australia.
More often than not, Nadia and the kids would be there rolling up tarps and helping to unload.
Andy recalls many a time arriving home late Saturday night from SA with market on and Nadia rising early on Sunday morning with the kids in tow to wash the truck and trailer, so it was clean for Andy to head to the market and unload.
Before the multinationals, regulations, OH&S, compliance, and large fleets took hold and changed the landscape forever, the owner-driver ruled the road with pride in themselves, their equipment and their work.
During school holidays you would regularly see Nadia and the kids with Andy on the Brisbane – Adelaide circuit supporting him and just being a grounded, proud, hard-working family.
I cannot help but feel these days are all but gone forever and the industry and society is poorer for it.
After the successful marathon of raising a family and supporting the business, Nadia and Andy finally began their well-deserved retirement, beginning with the building of the Denning coach, impeccably detailed in typical Soutar style.
They travelled the country for 10 years, pretty much covering the map (again). Nadia loved the nomad life, and of course, the fishing!
Andy and Nadia also gave five years of their time and effort in the set up and early running of the Alice Springs Road Transport Hall Of Fame.
Early visitors would often run into Nadia on the door, or fussing around behind the scenes making sure all was well, giving back to the industry that provided her and her family with a living.
After the 10-year tour, they settled down into their new home here in Jimboomba, where Nadia would enjoy more time with her children and grandchildren.
She immersed herself in her many crafts and hobbies, which she excelled at, being with Andy and still travelling in the now smaller motor home and of course joining the heritage truck movement in their restored ‘73 S2 Kenworth ‘Nadia’s Worry’.
While illness has taken Nadia far too soon from us, we can all be assured that she has lived a life well-lived, filled with love and success.
She will be missed by Andy, her family, the trucking community and the heritage trucking movement for many, many years to come.