Victor Calleja writes:
All deaths are final. All are heartbreaking and leave us speechless. It is hard to come to terms with loss, with unimaginable grieving.
I was shocked to hear some days ago that Niki Soler was terminally ill and news of his death followed almost immediately.
People who knew Niki well remember him as an ever-jovial person. I knew his father when he started out in the publishing business and, like him, I ran my own small company publishing directories. Ray, and subsequently joined by Niki, issued a very successful Yellow Pages.
I remained a small player while they joined the big league and turned their business into a most lucrative one. Yet both father and son remained down-to-earth, friendly and good fun.
It was a time which today sounds antediluvian – few know what separations, plates and phototypesetting are all about. Sending artworks for adverts meant physical delivery of all material, whereas today everything is done electronically.
There was more contact between clients, publishers, agencies and executives. Niki and I became acquainted and we assisted each other as best we could.
As their business expanded, Niki one day asked me to meet him. We met and he made me the simplest, and one of the best, proposals I have ever received.
He suggested I take over a directory which they used to produce for the maritime world. At the time I was on a growth path. The company needed new revenue streams and I knew they had put this directory on a good pedestal.
The offer was lucrative and enticing. Niki said they had already recommended me to the organisation connected to the directory which distributed it both locally and abroad. And all they wanted was for me to take it over and make a good go of it, to prove their recommendation right.
Giving a business opportunity with absolutely no strings attached was an amazing gift.
That was Niki, that was his dad. Amazing people, amazingly humble. Amazingly good at all they did.
My regret is that the world, our careers and several other things meant our paths never crossed again.
But Niki’s smile, his giving nature, truly live on, certainly in my heart. Death is final but memories, words and laughter live on. I’m quite sure that there is some kind of heaven which will surely embrace Niki.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us