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Aboud, Nicholas (Nick) (1911–1992)

by Sam G. Everingham

This article was published online in 2016

Nicholas Aboud (1911-1992), softgoods manufacturer and Lebanese community leader, was born on 28 June 1911 at Redfern, Sydney, second of ten children of Lebanon-born Abraham Daher Aboud, handkerchief manufacturer, and his Sydney-born wife Cissie, née Malouf. Abraham founded Pioneer Softgoods Industries Ltd and became a leader of the Lebanese community in Sydney.  Educated at The King’s School, Parramatta, at the age of eighteen Nicholas was sent to Beirut, where he studied French and Arabic at the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchal College for a year. He then went to the United Kingdom and gained experience in the linen and cotton mills of Belfast and Manchester.

Returning to Sydney, Aboud began work in the family business (Nile Textiles Ltd from 1954). He was a keen rugby union player and in 1935 was selected as a reserve back for the New South Wales Waratahs. On 26 April 1937 at St Augustine’s Church of England, Unley, Adelaide, he married Lorna May Hambour (d. 1978). During World War II he served briefly in Sydney with the Naval Auxiliary Patrol and the Volunteer Defence Corps. In 1952 he was appointed a director of Buckinghams Ltd, a well-known Sydney department store. Succeeding Ashley Buckingham as the firm’s managing director in 1963, he advocated the formation of a central credit-rating agency to reduce losses through bad debts, and in 1967 oversaw a strategic merger with the menswear specialists F. J. Palmer Holdings Ltd, becoming the joint entity’s managing director.

In 1971, when Gordon Barton and Greg Farrell’s Tjuringa Securities Ltd bought Buckinghams, Aboud was retained. Made managing director (1974) of the retail arm of a Tjuringa subsidiary, Angus & Robertson Ltd, he turned its loss-making bookshops into a successful business before its sale in 1979. Two years earlier he had become managing director of Barton and Farrell’s IPEC Holdings Ltd group of companies, which included transport, insurance, property investment, hotel, and retail firms, such as Traders Prudent Insurance Ltd, Direct Acceptance Corporation Ltd, The Federal Hotels Ltd, and IPEC Transport Group Operations. He retired in 1983. Appointed OBE (1979) for services to business, he later presided (1988-92) over the Australian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce.

Aboud played a crucial role in fostering Lebanese culture among expatriates and their descendants in Australia and the wider world. From 1962 to 1964 he was president of the Australian Lebanese Association of New South Wales. This non-political and non-religious organisation assisted Lebanese migrants. It also organised social functions to raise funds for people in need and to honour visiting dignitaries from the homeland. On the global stage, Aboud held office as president (1967-71) of the World Lebanese Cultural Union. Initiated by the Lebanese government, the WLCU was for several years very successful in its aims. Primarily, it conducted annual, international conventions, bringing together delegates from many nations to work on the difficult tasks of assisting the homeland while keeping overseas communities as united as possible. The first convention, held in Miami, United States of America, in 1969 under Aboud’s presidency, was extremely productive. He had been appointed to the Lebanese National Order of the Cedar in 1965 and was promoted within the Order in 1968.

In 1976 Aboud helped establish the Australian Medical Mission to Lebanon to relieve suffering during the civil war (1975-90). In February 1977 he and others escorted a small volunteer medical team (a doctor and twelve nurses) to the country; some members of the team stayed two years. Back in Sydney, Aboud spearheaded fund-raising that by 1983 had accumulated $250,000 for a second mission. During an official visit to Lebanon the same year, he assisted in distributing ‘the money to hospitals, convents and churches of all denominations—Moslem, Christian and Druze’ (Jarjoura 2005, 76).

A prominent member of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Aboud was lay president (1970-92) of its patriarchal diocese of Australia and New Zealand. He also served on the parish council of St George’s Church (Cathedral from 1988), Redfern, Sydney, from 1970 to 1986. On 15 September 1979 at the church, he married Heather Margaret Wood, née Agnew, a widow.

Nick Aboud developed a vast network of contacts in the business world and among politicians from all parties. He was highly respected for his generosity, hospitality, and service to the Lebanese and wider community. Survived by his wife, and by the two daughters and two of the three sons of his first marriage, he died on 24 March 1992 at Darlinghurst and was buried in Northern Suburbs cemetery. Portraits of him by (Sir) William Dargie (1962) and Reg Campbell (1963) are held by the family.

Research edited by Karen Fox

Select Bibliography

  • Batrouney, Andrew, and Trevor Batrouney. The Lebanese in Australia. Melbourne: AE Press, 1985
  • Dan, Emil, and Nicolas Mansour. St George Cathedral and Its People, Past Present and Future. Double Bay, NSW: Longueville Media, 2004
  • Everingham, Sam. Gordon Barton: Australia’s Maverick Entrepreneur. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2009
  • Jarjoura, Michel. Life is What You Make of It. Alexandria, NSW: Longueville Media, 2005.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Sam G. Everingham, 'Aboud, Nicholas (Nick) (1911–1992)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/aboud-nicholas-nick-16229/text28166, published online 2016, accessed online 14 December 2019.

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