Much-loved 'iconic' businessman loses cancer battle
NAMBOUR is mourning the death of an icon of the business community who has died after a four-year battle with cancer.
Bob Ireland, affectionately known as "Robert the Bootmaker", and his wife of 36 years, Denise, have business links across the region first founded in a supermarket the couple operated in Moffat Beach.
They relocated their business interests to Nambour 30-years ago where Bob revived skills learned from his grand parents to open a shoe sale and repair business that survives to this day.
Survive is the right word after bikies in 2011 targeted an adjacent tattoo business that had opened, but instead destroyed the couple's uninsured Short Street store still known as Sunshine Shoefix.
The Irelands relocated to Howard Street and continued to thrive servicing customers from Caboolture to Noosa as well building up shoes for medical applications.
The couple raised two children together Joshua and Melissa, with Bob also having fathered Debbie and Wayne in a previous marriage both of whom remained close.
Living on a property at Kenilworth which still runs a few cattle, the Irelands supported Joshua and Melissa's rise from pony club to become horse riders of high standard.
Mrs Ireland praised as brilliant the doctors and specialists who had helped Bob through the last four and a half years.
With part-time assistance she will continue run the family business.
"Bob urged me to keep active ," she said.
She said he would tell her to "keep your mind active and you will live longer".
"Bob was an icon," Mrs Ireland said. "He never hurt anyone and was never out to cut anyone's throat."
It went beyond that to extend help to those too poor to pay.
"His life was worth it," she said. "People haver a memory of him as a good man."
Mr Ireland would have been 76 in August.
"People were always putting their head in the door to ask how Bob was," Mrs Ireland said of the affection held for her husband.
When he moved into care at Opal early this year, Mrs Ireland said people from across the community would drop in to see him for a chat and to check on his progress.
A funeral service is planned for 11am on Thursday at Gregson and Weight in Nambour.
The following day Jaxon's Cafe on the corner of Lowe and Short Streets will close for business, but serve tea, coffee and scones for those unable to make the funeral who want to gather to remember a man whose life touched so many.