John Fuller Eulogy (Contributed by Scott Fuller)
John George Fuller
St Johns Church, Gordon
8 December 2003
On behalf of my mother, three sisters and family I would like to thank you for being with us today to celebrate the life and times of John.
In the past several days we have all received so many letters and phone calls and they have all had a common theme- my father’s strength of character and his courage, his integrity and his love of his family and friends. Coming a close second to all this was of course his Rugby, his fishing and boating and his business career.
I want you to know my dad had a fighting spirit and he fought all his life. He was born in Elizabeth Bay on 18 May 1920, some three months premature. He weighed about a pound and his mother fed him with an eye dropper. His parents John and Lavinia succeeded in raising him to be a healthy and robust young boy. Living in Bellevue Hill, he thrived within the Fuller family’s colourful environment.
With his younger sister and brother Vena and Malcolm, he went to his father’s vaudeville theatre shows, fished for crabs and jewfish at the Hawkesbury and went after bats with slingshots! He fished for trout and sharks in New Zealand. He collected butterflies. And he discovered Rugby. I don’t know of many people who would willingly repeat a final year of school just to play
Rugby, but my dad sure did.
John matriculated to Sydney University where he completed his first year of medicine and served in the Sydney University Regiment. He also played Rugby and in 1939 was a member of the Sydney University Premiership side that won the State pennant, and later became a Waratah. In 1940 War interrupted play! He told me of the beautiful Sydney morning he drove to the Gap at Watsons Bay and watched the British Fleet sail thru Sydney heads. He then drove to Paddington town hall and enlisted in the Army. Only then did he go home to tell his mother.
Dad went away to war on the Queen Mary. He led a front line mortar platoon that saw serious action in Malaya. He was then captured in Singapore and spent 3 ½ years as a POW, but he and his comrades never stopped fighting. When I was a boy he told me that he would never let the Japanese win and said that he grew his moustache in prison camp because he knew the Japanese guards could not. His moustache along with his beret, and perhaps a little dog at the end of a lead, were to become his trademarks of later life.
After the war ended, John rarely mentioned the fact he worked for Mitsubishi Aircraft company making Zero fighter planes. The POW’s used to drop hammers, steel bars or anything else they could into the molten aluminium to cause stress fractures in the wings. I asked him why he never told many people. With a twinkle in his eye he said the quality of the finished product was not very
good so how could he be proud of it?!
Some of dad’s servicemen and POW comrades are here today. They are the good-looking guys with all the medals down here on my left. If dad had wanted to go anywhere it would be with the men of the 2/18th. Thank you for honouring your Lieutenant John George Fuller today.
Returning from the war John decided to get fit and joined the Palm Beach Surf Club. He commenced economics at Sydney University and played more Rugby. He met my mother Dinah Scott and became engaged. He was then selected in the Wallaby Squad and in 1947 toured the UK and America on the last of the great ship tours. He was away 8 months and again sailed on the Queen Mary between England and New York. I would like to acknowledge the presence today of the many Australian Wallabies, former team mates, opponents
and rugby representatives.
John married Dinah at St Marks Church in 1948. This was a marriage that lasted some 55 years and had everything. Carolyn was born first, then Wendy, Yvonne and then me. He loved each of us and we loved him. I am proud to say that as a family, we are a very strong unit. Mum and dad welcomed the Begg, Willcocks, Gorman and Langwill familes. I know he loved and respected his three sons-in-law and daughter-in-law and was immensely proud of his seven grandchildren. Of his grandchildren he used to say “None of them’s a dud!”
Dad’s business career started soon after he was married as a scrap metal merchant buying and selling old warships. Along with his brother Malcolm they started an infant sporting goods business, but dad quickly thought that the mining and oil industry was more his style. During the 60’s and 70’s he owned an insulation business called Quality Insulation, a mineral refining business called Quality Earths.
As a child I could never understand why he chewed sour tasting mints called QuickEze. As I grew older I realised that he was supporting his own business because Quality Earths manufactured the active QuickEze ingredient. It is funny to think that my dad has helped millions of fellow Australian with their indigestion.
Dad also created Australia’s most adventurous exploration group for its time called Planet. He galvanised Australia’s new oil and mining industry. He radiated excitement and enthusiasm in his
weekly newspaper column. Much of Planet’s exploration work set the foundations for today’s mining and oil enterprises. His exploration work extended from the Pilbara to Bass Straight.
Right into the 80’s, he was still floating companies and wheeling and dealing his mining interests. John was a true Australian entrepreneur and definitely not a tall poppy. All his life John helped many people. Many successful executives’ business careers were jump started by John. He worked on two school councils, was president of the Paraplegic and Quadriplegic Sports Federation, a founder of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife, and a founder of APEA, the peak oil and mining association in Australia. Earlier this year his peers at APEA presented John with its highest achievement award in recognition of his achievements and service to industry.
Dad’s love of boats and fishing had no end. Our family spent many happy days on Sydney Harbour, especially at Quarantine on his boat called Cygnus. Summer after summer was spent on the
Hawksbury- mum, dad, the kids and Cygnus. Later, happy days were spent at Port Stephens and Palm Beach.
Dad did not stop fighting in his later years either. At about 75 John began to face his greatest challenge. Although obviously troubled, he remained a gentleman, a loving husband and father. He was always pleased to see friends even though his communications skills became a little shaky. One characteristic that never left him was the twinkle in his eyes.
My mother, Dinah, unselfishly tended my father’s needs for many years. While we all know how difficult it was for her, she cared for and loved her husband very much. They were best of friends. I am proud to say that our family cared for dad collectively and individually. Dad however never needed any help in maintaining his dignity or his presence. These were his natural attributes.
I wish to close with some words of my father. On Christmas Day 1944 at Kobe Prison Camp he wrote a letter his mother. The Japanese never allowed it to be posted. He pencilled:
“As yet I am confident in my heart that I have not failed you or dad as a soldier or a man and no matter what lies ahead I swear I will not fail you in the future. My war record was good and my personal reputation is how you would wish it to be. It is my fondest hope and firmest determination to make a success of any future life, justifying myself to myself and wiping from my slate these horrible wasted years, if such a thing is possible.”
Dad, you never failed your loving parents, nor us. You were a great success, we all admire you and we love you.