A champ in all facets of life

Central Telegraph - - NEWS -


JOHN Les­lie Ma­jor was born in Mount Mor­gan on April 17, 1938, sec­ond son to Les and Gla­dys Ma­jor, younger brother to Colin and Noe­lene and big brother to Jean.

He spent his for­ma­tive years at The Bri­ga­lows near Koko­tungo – a place for­ever in his heart – and then in town in Bar­al­aba, help­ing out at L Ma­jor and Co.

He at­tended Bar­al­aba State School and got into lots of mis­chief. By his own ad­mis­sion – “I think I was prob­a­bly a bug­ger of a kid”.

In 1953, John started board­ing at Rock­hamp­ton Gram­mar School, where he made many life-long friends and ex­celled in ev­ery sport to which he turned his short but mus­cu­lar legs. In 1955 – as a ju­nior com­pet­ing against se­niors – he won the se­nior 100 yards, the 220 yards, the 440 yards, the high jump, the board jump, the 120 yard hur­dles and the shot putt. He also made records in three of those events, and his long jump record wasn’t bro­ken for an­other 23 years.

John loved sport. As a par­tic­i­pant, as a spec­ta­tor, a ref­eree, a coach, and an arm-chair com­men­ta­tor. His love of rugby league, swim­ming and ath­let­ics and the con­tri­bu­tion he made to sport­ing life in Bar­al­aba and Cen­tral Queens­land can­not be over­stated.

He coached ju­nior and se­nior rugby league teams (the mighty Bar­al­aba Pan­thers), ref­er­eed games through­out Cen­tral Queens­land. He was heav­ily in­volved in the sports grounds at Bar­al­aba and coached many young Bar­al­aba ath­letes to per­form at re­gional and state com­pe­ti­tions.

His love of the spec­ta­cle, mate­ship, and sheer sport­ing ex­cel­lence was on dis­play ev­ery four years at the sum­mer Olympic Games. This pas­sion be­gan in earnest with a trip to Mel­bourne with brother Colin in 1956. Head­ing out from Bar­al­aba in Nana Ma­jor’s Austin A70, it was an event and an ad­ven­ture that he held dear all of his life. And he got to an­other Olympic Games – in Syd­ney 2000, with his Joy and three of his daugh­ters.

The Olympic motto is faster, higher, stronger and I think this rep­re­sents a part of John for which ev­ery­body will for­ever be grate­ful and that is his enor­mous en­cour­age­ment and pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards ev­ery­thing.

No mat­ter what de­ci­sions we made, ideas we had, cre­ations we came up with, John was our greatest en­thu­si­ast and sup­porter. He would take the small­est nugget of an idea and make it hap­pen, with en­ergy, ded­i­ca­tion and lead­er­ship.

He was the busiest man we ever knew. He thought noth­ing of slip­ping up to Rocky in between sets of ten­nis to buy a Christ­mas present for mum and prob­a­bly put on a bet or two at the TAB.

A few years ago, John started to write down some of his mem­o­ries and his­tory and it’s very ev­i­dent he learnt this mighty ca­pac­ity for hard work from the man he thought the world of, his dad Les.

I’m a fairly am­bi­tious per­son and Dad once said to me that “most peo­ple would be happy with a job at Mitre 10”. I was so cranky with him then. But I now un­der­stand what he meant and I am so grate­ful for the les­son. Take what you are given and make it the very best you can. Take a house in the sticks in the mid­dle of Cen­tral Queens­land and turn it into a beau­ti­ful home, take a ram­shackle bunch of young men and make it to the grand fi­nal. Run un­til your heart bursts. Give it all you’ve got.

Mum and Dad built the most beau­ti­ful home to­gether at Nonda, and Dad loved Nonda and Bar­al­aba al­most as much as he loved Mum and us.

Our years grow­ing up in that com­mu­nity were hal­cyon days.

Satur­days at the races, Sun­days at the footy, bar­be­cues at the Bar­al­aba pub, card nights at both Nonda and at Mar­shall’s house, pi­anola and cards at Colin and Tinny’s, bar­be­cues at the cross­ing, po­etry around the camp­fire, songs sung and har­mon­i­cas played. Am­bu­lance Christ­mas fairs, con­certs and cabarets at the RSL hall, where we often slept un­der the ta­ble on a blan­ket brought es­pe­cially for that pur­pose. As we got older and no longer slept un­der the ta­ble it was a feast of vegemite on toast when we got home, no mat­ter how late the hour.

Dad was in­volved in ev­ery­thing. The am­bu­lance, the sports grounds, the fire bri­gade, school events, foot­ball, ten­nis, build­ing the Neville He­witt weir at Bar­al­aba, the Lodge and any­thing else that was go­ing.

Dad was an in­cred­i­bly hard worker, with the strong­est work ethic I have ever known. Grow­ing up, he al­most al­ways had two jobs. When beef prices slumped he wor­ried about how he would find the money to send us to board­ing school and he didn’t hes­i­tate, telling Mum he would have to get an­other job “or we’re gonna be in trou­ble”. He worked at the Moura Mine, and sold in­surance for AMP, as well as get­ting up at dawn to tend to the run­ning of the farm.

Dad was not per­fect. It’s safe to say he was a bit of a show off. He had the at­ten­tion span of a five-year-old and ab­so­lutely no at­ten­tion to de­tail. His hand­writ­ing was ap­palling, and he spent far too much time at the Bar­al­aba Pub, the Red Lion in Rocky (with his great mate Leo Jef­feris) and in later years, at the Maple­ton Tav­ern with his new com­mu­nity.

He was a man of very sim­ple tastes. De­spite a wife and four daugh­ters of re­mark­able style, Dad was far more com­fort­able in an old pair of Bron­cos footy shorts – the shorter the bet­ter – and of course, his sig­na­ture hat.

There was no bet­ter break­fast in the world than two slices of toast slathered with but­ter and tomato sauce, and no bet­ter din­ner than corned meat or a steak. And when I say a steak, I mean, just a steak on a plate.

Apart from his love of us which we all felt pro­foundly, Dad’s other great loves were bush po­etry and coun­try mu­sic.

As a child, Dad had a stut­ter, and this is what brought him to bush po­etry. What an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment. What fo­cus, ded­i­ca­tion, com­mit­ment, self-be­lief and pas­sion.

When Dad re­tired, they built an­other beau­ti­ful home called Daw­son af­ter their beloved Daw­son Val­ley, at Maple­ton on the Sun­shine Coast. Mum loved the green rolling hills, and Dad couldn’t be­lieve how much it rained. It was a won­der­ful 10 years.


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