Nev Callaghan
Nev Callaghan Allan Reinikka ROK041214anev1

Nev Callaghan: A life full of humour, hard work and loyalty

THE funeral service began with the song, What a Wonderful World, to set the scene for celebrating the remarkable life of Nev Callaghan.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Rockhampton Crematorium today to honour a champion Rockhampton citizen, successful businessman, talented sportsman and devoted family man after he died at the weekend aged 80.

It was a life full of humour, hard work and loyalty.

Reverend Delfina Trail conducted the service, describing a man who "truly left a large footprint, such as it is with people who are kind, generous and loving”.

Nev's niece Louise Bulman read the eulogy, observing that everyone at the service knew Nev through many different ways.

"Many of you would have encountered his generosity, his big heart and incredible desire to solve the problem and make you happy,” she said.

"We want to remember him as the kind and gentle man he was.”

Nev was born in 1936 to Jack and Ivy Callaghan as the fourth of nine children (six boys) and grew up idolising his parents and forming close relationships with all of his brothers and sisters.

Money was short in the war years and young Nev would help out his parents by riding his bike to the greengrocer to pick up the "speckled fruit” and also to the cake shop to get the broken cakes.

He would also run errands and messages for neighbours to "make a bob for the family”.

"While he did messages for a purpose it was to his benefit as he liked to know what was going in the neighbourhood,” Louise said.

With six boys in the family there was always plenty of "hijinks going on”.

Nev would always say "it was just good clean fun”.

"There was a Sunday afternoon ritual in the Callaghan family which involved the boys kicking the football over the power line - and then sitting in the darkness waiting for the power to be restored,” Louise said to laughter from the audience.

"Another game was with the neighbours two doors down. They each made a catapult and would catapult half bricks across the yards. How nobody suffered an injury was amazing.

"Every new year they would place firecrackers in the neighbour's letter box and blow it up.”

Nev's best friend in life was Norm Diplock.

They met at four years of age and were great mates from then on.

"They did national service together, set up business across the road from each other, a friendship of 76 years and never a cross word,” Louise said.

After leaving school Nev did his mechanics apprenticeship at Byrne Motors and there met two important people in his life. His future wife of 55 years, Noela, and his future business partner Mick Docherty.

A few years after completing his apprenticeship Nev and Mick started DC Motors in 1959. It started off as a small garage and grew into a multi-franchised dealership business.

Sadly Mick passed away a 1981 and Nev continued to expand the business.

"He took risks and would have been stressed at times but of course he didn't show it,” Louise said.

"He was always the protector. He treated his staff as family and always knew what was going on in their lives and would give them guidance and opportunities to develop personally and professionally.”

Nev's focus on customer service was a cornerstone of his business success.

One his sisters recalls the time she went with her mother to get fuel at DCs and a customer drove in behind them. Nev immediately told them to drive around the block as he needed to look after the customer.

He sold another sister's car without asking her because a customer wanted it.

He sold his father a car - it wasn't a nice colour - but he said "it didn't matter because dad was colour blind”.

All of this led to DC motors being a successful business.

Nev and Noela Callaghan at DC Motors
Nev and Noela Callaghan at DC Motors Lisa Benoit ROK

He married Noela in 1960 and they had three children Ann-Marie, Tony and Francis.

Nev was always there for his family.

"He never did put himself first, he was always the peacemaker,” Louise said.

They would go on family holidays after Christmas every year to places like Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney and Canberra.

He wanted to show the kids new things but technology was not his friend.

In Canberra in the 1970s he came across a photocopier for the first time and told Francis to put her face in the copier to get a photo of her.

Being a talented sportsman, he played rugby league for Rockhampton, Central Queensland and one game for Queensland in 1959, something he was quietly proud of.

Nev Callaghan in action
Nev Callaghan in action conributed

After he finished playing he continued his association with the Rockhampton Leagues Club.

He would also sponsor many other sporting teams to help them to succeed.

"As a child and adult he would take any opportunity presented to him,” Louise said.

"His quietly determined nature made him the gentleman he was.”

After the service, friends and family gathered at the Rockhampton Leagues Club to share more memories of Nev's life.

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