Vale John 'JD' Daley

May 7 1942 – December 8 2012

John David ‘JD’ Daley was born on May 7 1942 at Camperdown Hospital.

John was the second child of Edward Patrick and Anne Daley. Edward was a boiler maker with State Rail.

The family lived at Annandale. As a child John suffered from severe meningitis, prompting his doctor to suggest the family should move to the bush. They did, to Ryde, an area known for its market gardens.

The whole family were devout Catholics.

In 1968, John started employment with the Commonwealth Public Service in social services for a four-year period.

In 1962, at age 20, JD thought he might try the air force. He didn’t like it and didn’t go beyond the recruitment stage.

However, he did enjoy playing football and cricket socially. An A-grade junior with the two blues, his football career was cut short by a busted ankle requiring surgery and 12 months of recuperation.

In 1965, following study with the College of Nursing, John commenced the next stage in his life as a geriatric nurse at North Ryde Psychiatric Hospital, eventually obtaining a diploma of nursing management.

This was a particularly happy time in John’s life as he fell in love with work mate, Rhonda Todd.

On August 12 1972 Rhonda and John married at North Ryde Hospital.

John and Rhonda enjoyed each other’s company for 40 years. Their only child, Kathleen, was born in Canberra in February 1975 and produced the wonderful grandsons Riden, now 10, and James, now seven. John often spoke glowingly of all three.

In 1974, John and Rhonda transferred to Woden Hospital, commencing on the day Cyclone Tracey decimated Darwin. John was brilliant at choosing historic dates for disasters to happen.

John recalls the transfer by planes from Darwin to Canberra of many victims. It was a time of sadness and bloody hard work. This was the start of 20 years in Canberra for the family.

Ten years later, JD grew tired of nursing and sought change. Education was foremost on his mind and he did something about this during the 80s and 90s. The University of Canberra and the ANU accepted him with open arms. Included among his degrees are secondary school teaching subjects including science, anthropology, sociology, prehistory, journalism and I’ll throw in ‘argumentology’, which he was very good at.

In 1984, the Catholic Education Office in Canberra employed John as a secondary teacher, where he was well qualified. He was highly regarded, but six years was enough.

In 1990, John took up a position in the ACT Health Department. Five years was enough there, and 20 years was enough of living on the big paddock between Cooma and Yass.

In 1995, John accepted a risk management/safety officer position with Eurobodalla Shire Council. John and Rhonda bought a home in Tomakin and loved living in this small village. John took up bowls. Tomakin has an annual visit with Yass each year, they know John well.

In 1999, two things happened. Firstly John left local government for a period of three years, taking up a position as a risk manager with GIO Insurance, based in Canberra, and secondly he purchased a house in Rossi Street, Yass.

By 2002 he returned to local government until retirement in 2006. He was the OHS officer, firstly within Goulburn, then Yass, until retirement.

In 2006, upon retirement, a decision needed to be made: Tomakin or Yass.

Yass was chosen as it had more options going for it with location, job opportunity, medical services, beautiful historic buildings and a friendly town with a lot of nice community-minded people.

John, when health allowed following his retirement, volunteered at the aged care facilities in Yass.

Rhonda gained a position with Linton, where she is still employed.

Retirement did not go in the direction John had hoped, which was good health and a van trip around Australia. Within weeks of retiring, he was diagnosed as having prostate cancer.

Following surgery, the all-clear was given. John decided then to have both knees reconstructed, one at a time. Complications slowed the healing process. Recuperation involved extensive walking with his best friend Denny.

Denny was a hound dog rescued from the pound. They had been inseparable ever since John brought him home. When John said recently “Life isn’t fair”, I’m sure Denny agreed.

My involvement with John was mainly through bowls and local government. In 2000, the Yass Bowling Club was $58 from insolvency. John was asked to be director, and accepted the challenge immediately. In 2002, when I joined, John was the first to invite me to play under his leadership.

He was a serious competitor.

Since his passing many people have asked ‘Is he the John Daley who used to write letters to the Tribune?’ Without exception they all said, ‘Gee, I enjoyed what he had to say, he had a way with words, and I loved his humour’.

Journalism definitely paid off. Editor Karan Gabriel said he will be sadly missed by staff at the Tribune and many readers.

In the hours of his last days, I tried valiantly to have John open up about his life.

“Miracles are few and far between,” he said.

The starting point was the ending when John, with relief and pride, advised Father Mick Burke it was time to come to his home and administer the last rites.

“I wasn’t aware you were a Catholic, John. I don’t remember seeing you at mass,” Father Mick said.

‘I did it my way’ is definitely a fitting epitaph for John.

In summary, John ‘JD’ Daley was an epitome of emotions and contradictions. He was ultra intelligent (says a bloke with no education), he was loving and caring, particularly to his family close friends and work mates, he liked to correct misinformation he overheard. He was a quiet-natured man but argued a lot. He was a good listener but did it his way. He was a hardworking provider for his family. He was a loner but loved people. He loved all sport, played most, but didn’t achieve great heights. 

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