Vale: Former Canegrowers head dies aged 86
Queensland's sugarcane industry is mourning a man who led growers through one of the most turbulent periods in its history.
Fred Soper, a Marian region grower, died peacefully at Mirani on Friday night aged 86.
He is survived by his wife Nola, four children, 11 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Mr Soper was the Queensland Canegrowers chairman from 1982 to 1989.
He began his career representing fellow growers when he was elected to Marian Mill Suppliers Committee in 1964.
He later served as Canegrowers Mackay chairman from 1979 to 1989 and, in 1982, became one of the youngest men to lead the organisation at a state level.
Current Canegrowers chairman Paul Schembri, also from Mackay, said Mr Soper was a true gentleman who worked for the greater good of growers and the sugar industry during difficult times.
He said Mr Soper was "a good man" who was "always very encouraging" and "very pragmatic" about doing the best for the industry and its growers.
"Mr Soper served growers with a fierce dedication," Mr Schembri said.
"One year he was away from his farm on Canegrowers business for 276 nights.
"He gave a 100 per cent commitment to the welfare of growers and was a true gentleman in the way he conducted himself."
Mr Soper's work at a state level extended to the national and international stage.
He attended the first-ever world sugar growers congress in Mexico in 1981 and later became president of the World Association of Beet and Canegrowers in 1987.
Current Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg said the organisation was saddened to hear of Mr Soper's passing.
Mr Borg said his contemporary was one of the most respected figures in the sugar industry during his time as chair of Canegrowers Mackay and the state organisation.
"Our industry … locally, statewide and internationally, has been the beneficiary of Fred Soper's hard work and leadership," Mr Borg said.
"His contribution was instrumental in bringing about the strong industry which we are a part of today.
"Fred has always been held in high regard by those who knew him and worked alongside him.
"I extend my condolences to his family and the many friends he has left behind. May his legacy live on."