‘Life well lived’: Family’s loving tribute for a Gympie icon
The family of Nolan Meats founder Pat Nolan have paid a loving tribute to one of the Gympie region’s biggest icons after he passed away this week.
- Tributes flow as the Gympie region loses a local legend
- Nolan matriarch‘s pivotal role in family business’s success
The Nolan family yesterday confirmed Pat died peacefully in his sleep on Monday night at the age of 91.
See the full statement below:
We are saddened by the news that Pat Nolan the founder of Nolan Meats passed away Monday night 29th March 2021.
Patrick Terrence Nolan was a proud, lifetime Gympie resident and businessman, born in Gympie 1st October 1929.
He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, in the hometown he was born, loved, lived in and promoted.
Pat used to often proudly quote one of his late mentors Herb Abdy, saying, “There is nothing flat about Gympie” referring not just to the terrain, but the calibre of people claiming links to it.
Pat put his life’s work into the meat retailing trade, meat processing and promoting Gympie as a great place for both business and pleasure.
Pat with wife Marie (deceased) were the founders of iconic Queensland business Nolan Meats Pty Ltd.
As a young lad Pat, while attending the Gympie Christian Brothers, worked with his father in a small joinery shop before leaving school.
He would regularly relay the story of how he would take evening meals from the Rifle Range Rd home down to the Crescent Rd joinery as his father busily toiled away.
Upon leaving school he then briefly worked on a Mary Valley banana plantation harvesting bananas, before taking up an apprenticeship at a Gympie butcher shop in 1945.
He had found his passion; and consequently, the foundation of his business life.
After completing his apprenticeship, he worked for several different butchers in Gympie, developing quite a reputation as a great butcher with all the wit and personality that saw his customers follow him from shop to
Among the hard work, social life included attending country dances and playing rugby league football for both Gympie Rainbows and Northern Suburbs Football Clubs.
In December 1956 he married the love of his life Marie (Johnson), a local dairy farmer’s daughter from The Dawn, then residing at Mt Pleasant Rd Gympie.
For a time prior, Pat would often watch the Johnson girls as they walked past the Apollonian Vale shop on their way to work in Mary St and knew he had to meet her. He planned!
In 1957 at just 28 years of age, he was offered a partnership by Mr Eric Herbert at his Duke Street shop. As finance was tight, Pat offered the deeds to his partly built family home as collateral to assist in the purchase.
It was all he had. It wasn’t long before he reached that ‘now or never’ moment and decided to go out on his own creating Pat Nolan Butchery, at 83 Mary Street Gympie in February 1958.
Being the visionary and innovator that he was, in 1963 he purchased a small slaughter yard on East Deep Creek Rd so as he could slaughter his own cattle for his shop.
This was not uncommon in those days as the Gympie district boasted about 14 small slaughtering establishments around that time.
Always driven by the consumer, and the desire to please the customer he also started an intensive piggery on the slaughter yard site to supply locally grown pork to his busy butcher shop.
He had this thing, right up until his last days where he would say, “Did you get that locally?” It wouldn’t matter whether it was a bricklayer to assist in building, a fabricator to bend some steel, fuel to fill a truck; he always wanted to support locals first.
He liked to patronise businesses where the owners had their name above the door and the owners or family worked in the business.
As further opportunities arose, he purchased two more butcher shops in Gympie and ironically one of those was the very shop in Duke St that he started out in as a partner.
Apart from his noted appreciation for hard work, he was a thinker and an innovator, spending many late nights in his workshop trying make a new bit of equipment from an idea he had gleaned from somewhere and wanted to just, ‘better it’.
He knew improvement in any field came with persistence of purpose. He knew the value of compound effort. It wouldn’t matter whether it was shovelling gravel, drifting a pulley on a shaft, or building a business; ‘little and often’ was his mantra.
He knew about continuous improvement long before quality assurance became fashionable.
He tried to pass this innovative spirit onto his family and the many trainees or apprentices he coached by his other little sayings with the favourite one being, “There is no such word as can’t’”.
This would commonly follow on from, “Use a bit of bloody gumption” or “Come on — get in amongst it and
you won’t be so far away’”.
He gave everything his full commitment once he started a project. For all his success, he was marked by his humble nature and always happy to be the man in the background.
In the era when staff Christmas parties were celebrated in the workplace, one of the key customers was chatting to Pat and questioned how he managed to keep all three sons interested in the business and combine their different skills.
Pat simply replied, “I stand behind the shed”.
Physically, he was behind the shed welding some new contraption, but metaphorically always there if he was needed to bounce an idea off.
While his strong Roman Catholic faith was central to his values and family life, being part of the St Patrick’s Parish Council allowed him to make an even greater contribution.
More broadly the social and business community was also very important to Pat.
He dedicated many hours of community service to the Gympie Rotary Club over his 50 years of membership.
Likewise, he always had time for his mates and anyone who wanted a chat over a beer at the RSL Club, local pub or even Gympie Turf Club, for which he was a patron.
No one was surprised when after some social interaction he would encourage those surrounding to sing an Irish tune with him; no musical accompaniment required.
Pat’s health hadn’t been the best since the passing of ‘the love of his life’ Marie, in September 2018.
In fact, between the loss of Marie and COVID lockdowns he became much more pensive and reflective.
He sobered from a man of dreams, plans and actions to an even more prayerful person, commonly saying “I’m not making any long-range plans”.
He spent his last days in wonderful aged care at Cooinda.
He would always look forward to and cherish the visits from his six children Michael, Clare, Tony, Terry, Mary and Helen and his grandchildren.
As frail as his body was towards the end, his mind was still alert and he would always want to go for a drive to check on the pasture, the cattle, a look at the meat processing facility or feedlot and commonly point out something that was out of place or had changed since last visit.
In a light-hearted moment some years ago, Pat was questioned if there was to be an inscription on his tombstone, what wording would he like?
He thought for a moment and then said just three words, “He tried hard”.
People who knew Pat would probably agree with that choice of words. He tried hard; he gave his best, in a life well lived.
Pat’s life will be celebrated with a Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Church St, Gympie next Tuesday from 1pm sharp, followed by a committal service at the Gympie Cemetery.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions please register your interest in attending to email@example.com.