Eulogy read by Jack's daughter Catherine De Cristofaro
Posted by: Catherine De Cristofaro, 29/11/2016
Hello my name is Catherine and I am Jack’s daughter
It is my privilege to honour Jack today.
I would like to thank family and friends for joining us today as we celebrate Jack’s life.
John Martin Sullivan was born in 1928, the fifth child, to Richard and Mary Sullivan. Jack had 5 sisters Sheila, Molly, Kathleen, Clare and Patricia. Tragically, his youngest sister Pattie died of a childhood disease at the age of 5, when Jack was 7 years old. In the early days Jack’s remaining four sisters doted on him and lavished him with love. Jack grew up in the family home in Roberts Street in Unley. In later years, his sisters would joke about how Jack spent much of his time up in the many fruit trees on their block. Jack was very much a family man, throughout his life, and he loved his sisters and his nieces and nephews dearly.
Jack attended the Christian Brothers College in Wakefield Street where he proved to be an astute student. He was gifted in his ability to learn languages and in one of his senior school years he achieved top of the state for Latin and French, in the Catholic school results.
After leaving school, Jack worked at Fauldings Pharmaceuticals and for Freeman the chemist while studying pharmacy. In time, he chose a different pathway and followed his family into the hotel business. Looking back on this, he said that he went from dispensing medicine to dispensing beer. Jack worked as a barman in his brother in law Pat and sister Kath Hayme’s hotel in Crystal Brook and later in the Abattoirs Hotel, which was managed by his brother in law and sister, John and Clare Fitzgerald. It was around this time that Jack met a very stylish and attractive young hairdresser, Josephine von der Borch. Jo remembers the first time she and Jack met at her sister and brother in law Frank and Wilma’s house, on the night she went to do her hair, and Jack and the Fitzgeralds turned up for a visit. Jo was instantly captivated by this quiet and handsome young man. The first time Jo met Jack’s family at Crystal Brook, Jack’s mum Mary showed her a photo in a frame in which Jack was one of the statue bearers in the Marian procession, going down North Terrace. Jo immediately remembered watching that procession a couple of years before and praying “please give me a good Catholic man, like that” as she was looking directly at Jack at the front of the procession and Jo believed that God had answered her prayer that day. Jack loved to read and Jo remembers that he always had at least 4 books under his arm and she was impressed by his intelligence and depth of character. After a short time of courting, Jack and Jo became engaged. They picked out a ring together and visited the Cathedral, where Jack slipped the ring onto Jo’s finger. A whirlwind wedding took place, so that Jack could take up the position as manager of the Abattoirs Hotel. After living there for a year, they moved into the new Cavan Hotel, which was built on the same property.
Life in the hotel was hard work and they were long days. Jo remembers Jack getting up to open the pub at 6am so the Abattoirs workers could have a stiff drink of whisky before their day of slaughtering. He would then take up a cup of tea and toast upstairs to Jo in bed every morning. His day would finish when the doors closed at 10 pm and the money in all the tils was counted. Jack was a classic introvert but he gradually grew in his role and became more confident. In his day, the pub was a respectable business and Jack became well-liked and respected by many of the patrons. He was affectionately nicknamed by the patrons of the hotel as “Gentleman Jack”, which was a reflection on how he treated everyone with dignity and patience. Jack was very much a part of the community that developed around the pub, particularly in the Cavan Golf Club as he was a keen golfer.
In the next few years Jack and Jo were blessed with five children: Peter, Catherine, Michael, Joanne and John.
His children remember his many positive qualities. There are many things that we admired about Jack, but the things that stand out the most are his integrity, his intelligence, his generosity and his sense of humour. Jack loved his children very much and this was particularly evident when we were sick or injured. Holidays were times when we were able to discover who he really was. One trip that stands out was the time he towed a caravan around Victoria and New South Wales for three weeks. Those long hours of driving with five kids was enough to test anyone’s patience but this trip was a happy bonding time, of seeing new places and hours of playing cards with Jack making us laugh with his silly jokes. Jack loved Christmas and family get-togethers and we have happy memories of past Christmases and special occasions with the Fitzgerald, Haymes, Roberts and Hayes families when we were kids. One of Jack’s favourite sayings when he raised a glass was “Happy Days!” and he would be wishing that for you all today.
Jack loved the English language and he had a knack for playing with words and he was the king of puns. Jack also often wrote witty letters to the editor and proudly showed them around when they were published.
After 20 years at the Cavan, the family moved into a private house for the first time and Jack took the position as the night manager of the Meridian Lodge in Melbourne Street. When Jack eventually retired he developed an interest in gardening and flowers and he and Jo created a beautiful sanctuary in their backyard. Jack was able to enjoy his family around him as it grew with three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Looking back on their years together, Jo believes that it was their core faith that both she and Jack shared that gave a strong foundation to their marriage and family life. Jack was romantic and thoughtful throughout their marriage and he loved to surprise Jo with gifts.
You knew when Jack was happy because he would sing or he would whistle. He loved listening to music, particularly the great tenors and the opera. He also loved sport, especially his beloved Crows. Jack was very proud of his Irish heritage and always wore his green tie on St Patrick’s Day. He kept in contact with the friends he made, as a young man, in church associations like the Catholic Young Men’s Society and the Knights of the Southern Cross and they always remained very dear to him.
Sadly Jack’s last few years were overshadowed by Alzheimer’s and it was very difficult for his family to witness his deterioration. However, Jack’s beautiful spirit often shone through and he maintained a sweetness of disposition right to the end. When he was well, Jack said his favourite season of the year was Autumn and in these last few years, in his mind, it was always Autumn. We would giggle when he made comments like “it’s a hot day for Autumn!” but it was really the middle of Summer. In spite of his illness, Jack showed care and concern for Jo and the family by asking them how they are or giving them a pat on the back as they walked by.
Dear Jack you were a true gentleman and you were well loved. You will be greatly missed by us all.
So Jack enjoy your new garden where the colours are rich, the wisteria never falls and the leaves never fade. Your whole family is together again in celebration.
Happy days Dad! Happy days.
I love you Dad and I will miss you.