Vale Nic Schellekens

It’s with a very heavy heart that I write today about the sudden passing of one of the pillars of the online Saab community in general and the Dutch Saab community in particular – Nic Schellekens.

NG-Nic Schellekens 03Nic passed away on Tuesday morning. He had recently been undergoing tests for cancer in Holland and was still awaiting a full diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan. I don’t know the precise circumstances surrounding his passing (update: apparently it was a pulmonary embolism) but suffice to say it was most unexpected and deeply tragic.

I first met Nic online in 2009 as GM were looking to sell Saab. He was pretty well connected and we cautiously shared information here and there about the sale of Saab and what was happening with it. I first met Nic in person at the Saab Festival in 2010. He was one of the Mad Dutchies who got up to all sorts of good-natured hijinks at the event.

Many Saab fans won’t have met Nic personally but would most likely be very aware of his work. Nic, along with others, put in a lot of the legwork to make the Dutch Saab Support Convoy – the first one organised – such a success in 2010. He was also instrumental in conceiving and organising the We Are Many, We Are Saab events in January 2012.

NicS900I can’t write with any real knowledge of his whole life. We were only recent but fast friends. What I can say, though, from my own observation is that Nic was a larger-than-life man with a larger-than-life personality and a seemingly endless capacity to care about and act on behalf of the people and things he held dearest. He was a guy who touched you by his example, whose self-giving compelled others to be as open with him as he was with them.

Nic was the first openly gay man that I formed a friendship with. I don’t mean to bring that up as if it’s part of defining Nic as a person. It’s more about defining me and my sheltered, phobia-prone upbringing. Nic didn’t know it, but he opened my eyes to a lot that had been wrong with my world, simply by being himself. He was obviously very much in love with and committed to his partner, Johan, but also cared deeply and demonstratively for his former wife, Pauline. I stayed a Nic’s place for a few days and met both Johan and Pauline in February 2012, and the depth of these relationships was obvious for all to see.

But that’s the thing about Nic – he was an open book, without pretence. He simply got down to the act of living and doing what he could to make the world a better place for the people around him. He and Johan had recently bought and renovated a guesthouse in France but trips back to Holland were a regular feature of their lives.

The three things I’ll associate most with Nic – his family and friends, his love for all things Saab, and his dogs. Nic, Johan and Pauline were all passionate about their dogs, which were all labradors including one retired and one working guide dog.

Nic

Trish and I were both absolutely devastated upon hearing this news earlier today (she’d also met Nic in 2010 and spoke with him many times on Skype). It’s fair to say I can’t really believe that he’s gone. Nic and I swapped emails just a few days ago, where he told me about his initial cancer diagnosis and briefly outlined what this coming week would entail. We hadn’t spoken on Skype for a couple of months, but as I think about it it’s like I can hear his voice – the most memorable and oft-repeated words being a deep, growling Coooobus! as he told his beloved black labrador off for doing something naughty :-)

Nic, my friend, you have left a massive hole in the lives of people around you. You’d be embarrassed if you knew just how much you’re going to be missed. You’d be gracious and kind – and then you’d tell us to get on with it. A man of action, is Nic.

Rest peacefully, mate. Gone far, far too soon.

——

Swade

Ex-Saab blogger, multiple Saab and Alfa Romeo owner and football tragic.

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16 Responses

  1. thesaabfarm says:

    A tragedy, That he may rest in peace.

  2. It was only about 2-3 weeks since you and I had a good conversation about a plan I had for a Saab Classics gathering Nic!

    Life is at times really really grim.

    Sleep well Nic. You will be Truly missed.

    Tom

  3. till72 says:

    Could not have said it better. Very well written mate.

  4. Philida Schellekens says:

    Thank you Swade and everyone who has posted. We are Nic’s family and we really appreciate your words. We know that SAAB and the SAAB community meant a lot to him.

    Philida Schellekens

  5. eggsngrits says:

    I must say that I knew him only through the magic of the internet, but he’s always been gracious to a fault. His recent hospital stay didn’t seem too onerous, but I suppose that was his putting on smile in the face of danger. Too bad.

  6. Dave Goodhand says:

    I first met Nic in 2004 when we worked together in Amsterdam. Since then, I have been in South Africa, but kept in touch and repeatedly meant to get together. I am devestated for Johan and Pauline and so sad that a larger than life, generous to a fault and deeply caring man has gone. Nic – I will never forget you. You were brave to the end and we never knew how bad you were. RIP

  7. jasondpowell says:

    Very well written Steven, to say I’m still in shock with this would be an understatement. I spoke with him on Sunday and he was at his ex-wife’s house with all the dogs and in great spirits. In no way was this even in the realm of a possibility in my mind….. There are no words to make sense of any of this but to say that he will live on through those that were blessed in life to call him a friend. I will always remember the joy he got from helping others succeed. A great, great man and I will miss him dearly.

  8. RobertRoger says:

    Wow, had him on the phone last monday! He was, despite the pre-diagnosis, rather positive about everything. This comes as a real shock to us! Gonna miss you, Nic… You and your weird sense of humor.
    Roger & Robert (two of those crazy duchies)

  9. Dave says:

    SAAB is / was a company that you could greet and meet the founders and the new folk on any day at a convention or a meeting . As I age so meany are passing , hold your friends close for as long as you can , and remember them fondly forever . My mentor is gone now but I’ll never forget what I was taught somehow for myself that keeps them very alive in my mind .

  10. remisaab says:

    Beautiful post for a beautiful heart that many of us got in touch with. Like some of you the news Nic gave to me a couple of days ago were not terrific but never a matter “of days”. Death suddenly came. But Nic’s enthousiasm with every one will never been gone away. This man lives to make people happy. We will terribly miss him.

  11. Mark says:

    A moving tribute to a man who touched so many, Swade. It’s wonderful how he opened your mind, “simply by being himself.” Thank you for sharing that… what an eternal gift Nic give.

    • jasondpowell says:

      Swade, I so love what you say here:

      Nic didn’t know it, but he opened my eyes to a lot that had been wrong with my world, simply by being himself.

      What an incredible thing to write and so true. He by being himself opened your eyes and many to what truly matters. It would never matter to me if he were this or that, what matters is that he was a man that connected with so many on such a deep level that if you ever worried about that kind of stuff, it was gone within your first conversation because in the end it didn’t matter. I’m glad he could open eyes and hearts just by being himself. He simply was a great man.

  12. RobinMorley says:

    I’ve read this so many times today and still can’t beleive Nic is not with us. I was only chatting to him a couple of days ago. Swade, a great tribute to a fantastic Saab friend. I will miss him

  13. Johan Beikes says:

    It must have been more than 5 years ago when I met Nic the first time. Back then I was secretary of Saab Club Nederland and we were discussing the new website. He made an everlasting impression on me simply by his enthousiasm, his seemingly endless amount of energy and passion. That was truly Nic as I found out in later years. When I heard of his death I was flabbergasted and I still can’t believe it is true: he is no longer with us…

    Swade, your post says it all and I was really touched when I read it.