MIRANDA Mout stopped correcting people when they asked if she and Steven Kadar were related.
Blood may not bind them, but their history does – Mr Kadar has been like a brother to her and her sister, Libby Spiers, and like a son to her parents, Lyn and Bob Coulston.
Mr Kadar, 34, a Department of Sustainability and Environment firefighter, was killed on Wednesday with his Tallandoon colleague, Katie Peters, 19, as they battled the Harrietville fire near Hotham.
Ms Coulston, the former Towong Shire mayor, and Mr Kadar’s mother Jan Kadar have been best friends since their school days.
The Coulstons were the country family at Lucyvale, near Corryong, and the Kadars the city family from Sydney. The children — Miranda and Libby and Steven and his sister Elissa — grew up together.
The Corryong landscape, its lakes, rivers, trees and wildflowers, captured Mr Kadar.
“He was born and bred in the city but he had that country boy about him,” Ms Mout said.
Mr Kadar often begged his parents to allow him to move to Lucyvale to live with the Coulstons and go to school in Corryong.
“Steven would’ve moved here in an instant,” Ms Mout said.
So when he could, he did.
He started his career with the Environment Department as a first-year project firefighter at Corryong in 2004.
DSE chief officer Alan Goodwin said: “Steve returned over the next four or five seasons and it became obvious to management that he had more to offer. He later became a permanent field services officer”.
Friend and colleague Ron Patterson said Mr Kadar loved his work.
“Steve led a full and happy life, loved his work and teammates, enjoyed the outdoor work environment and was always ready to help with a smile, without complaint,” Mr Patterson said.
Mr Patterson said Mr Kadar was well-read and intelligent — handy at morning tea time quiz questions.
“He was particularly good at obscure history questions. He would straight away call the answer and leave other staff amazed at his ability,” he said.
His misspelt DSE name badge, which led to a running joke of his colleagues calling him “Stevie Radar”, now sits on the crew room honour board.
“When you lose someone like that you want the whole world to stop and take notice,” Ms Mout said yesterday.
“You want everyone to feel what you’re feeling.”
Ms Mout said Corryong had stopped for Mr Kadar. She has seen it in the eyes of those she meets in town; her grief reflected.
“The world has stopped for Steve,” Ms Mout said.
Corryong policeman Sgt Paul Brady has been friends with Mr Kadar for seven years. Their work meant they were bound to meet.
“The community is in shock,” Sgt Brady said. “He was terrific, a really decent fellow.”
Mr Kadar’s family yesterday said he had had an uncanny ability to create a sense of calm and was a person who lit up their lives.
“Steven had a wicked sense of humour and an ability to turn unpleasant situations into humour. He had a great deal of interests which involved the outdoors, fishing, four-wheel driving, and had become an accomplished social bowler,” they said.
Mr Kadar was described as being devoted to his family, embracing his role as uncle to his sister’s children and “adopted” uncle to his Lucyvale family.
“He was a source of constant fun and delight, playing Lego, dressing up for birthday parties and reading bedtime stories,” Mr Kadar’s family said.
He had found the love of his life in Albury with partner Leah.
His family said the couple had many dreams for their future.
“Words cannot express how lost, devastated and heartbroken she feels, having lost the love of her life. Steven was such a beautiful soul and he and Leah were so privileged to have shared the greatest love,” they said.