Toronto, Ontario -- June 26, 2017 -- It is with great regret that we must report the passing of Winifred “Nana” Soper. She was well-known to many people in the Canadian collision repair industry as the mother and frequent companion of Gloria Mann, Collision Repair magazine's VP of Industry Relations.
Nana was often seen at industry events and was a frequent visitor to both repair facilities and vendor's offices. No matter the location or event, Nana often accompanied her daughter on her calls.
She was born in England on August 29, 1912 and passed away late in the evening of June 25, 2017. There’s not question that she lived a long and amazing life. William Mann, one of her grandchildren, spoke to Collision Repair magazine and helped to put her life in perspective.
“She was 14 when Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, and 56 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. She was just five years old when World War I ended and 32 at the end of World War II,” he said. “She always stayed current with the times and she evolved with each generation of her family. That’s part of what made her so unique and so special.”
Many people from the industry knew Nana well and had stories to share from her long and eventful life. Nana was still living in London during the Blitz, the heavy and frequent bombing raids during World War II.
“She was telling me a story once, of when she taking shelter in the Underground, and subconciously I was picturing her as a little girl,” said Mike Davey, Editor of Collision Repair magazine. “It was after she mentioned having her children with her that my perspective suddenly shifted. She definitely saw a lot of history.”
Nana maintained a zest for living right until the very end and always seemed glad to see people she knew and to meet new friends. She also liked cigars.
"I first met Nana when I was at a conference in Montreal and she brought me cigars during drinks for my husband," said Joy Skinner, President of CSN-Industrial Park Collision in Orillia. "I was just so impressed by her and how full of life she was."
Tony Canade is the President of Assured Automotive. He first met Nana some years ago and recollects that first meeting. “Gloria had come to watch my daughter Bianca’s soccer game and invited us back to her house for lunch,” said Canade. "I distinctly remember how eloquent and elegant Nana was; dressed impeccably, hair done and sitting at the kitchen island sharing a glass of wine with my wife Mary and I.”
In 2010, Nana attended an Assured Automotive event to celebrate the company's successful achievement of the Women’s Certified Award. Mississauga’s then-Mayor Hazel McCallion was also in attendance. At the time, Madame Mayor was 89 years old and still four years from retiring as Mayor. Canade recounted a conversation he heard between Nana and Mayor McCallion at the event.
“Madame Mayor said something along the lines of being a little tired as she was getting older, to which Nana replied, ‘Nonsense, you’re still young! Just wait until you get to be my age,’” Canade recounted. “I looked at Madame Mayor and said: ‘With all due respect, Madame Mayor, I bet you don’t hear that every day.’”
The passing of every person leaves a hole in the world that can never be filled. In the case of Nana, the space she leaves behind is very large indeed. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.