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Griffiths John Charles

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1931
Place of birth Tumby Bay South Australia
Principal occupation Farming
Date of death 2015
Place of decease Hamley Bridge Memorial Hospital

JOHN Charles Griffiths was born on June 14, 1931 at Tumby Bay Hospital, the second child of parents Archie and Evelyn. He lived on a farm at Karkoo, Eyre Peninsula with his parents and sisters, Maureen and Fay. John’s father was originally from Long Plains, but had taken up a section of partly cleared land at Karkoo in 1927. John attended school at Karkoo, travelling there each day by pony. The family also raced and bred harness horses, a love which continued throughout John’s life. John would help on the farm and as times were tough due to the start of the Great Depression, John and Maureen would trap rabbits for their mother to cook. In 1940, John’s father leased out the farm and moved the family to Adelaide. They looked for other farms and finally settled at Mallala on the property still worked by the family today. John’s youngest sister June was born a few years after moving to Mallala. Once settled in Mallala, John continued his school days at the primary school, making many lifelong friendships. John finished his schooling in Adelaide at Prince Alfred College before returning to work on the family farm with his father, running a small cropping program and Merino sheep enterprise.

A young local girl named Gwenda Tucker caught John’s eye, and what was to be a lifelong romance ensued. The couple married on April 13, 1957 and had five children, Dianne, Andrew, Deb, Wayne and Carolyn. The family enjoyed a happy life on the farm, helping John when needed. John and Gwenda bought their first caravan in 1964, taking their children on many holidays after that, including the regular January holiday to West Beach, a spring trip to the Flinders Ranges, Riverland, Eyre Peninsula and even the snowfields.

John was a great sportsman and regularly played Country Carnival tennis in Adelaide. He played senior tennis for Mallala in the Gawler Tennis Association, playing at number one. John captained the team when it won its first premiership in 1956, that being the first of many premierships for the club. Along with a number of others, John helped build the tennis clubrooms, which are still used today. John was also a very talented footballer, playing more than 300 games for Mallala Football Club, winning Best and Fairest for the club six times, and also represented the association many times. He was awarded life membership of the club, and was named vice captain in the “Team of the Century,” with his son-in law Todd Thorne next to him as captain. In 1959, John, Ron Tucker and Brian Algar instigated the building of the first football clubrooms at Mallala, with some canteen extensions made a while later. These buildings are still part of the clubrooms today. Over the years, John spent many hours teaching his children, and many others, to play football and tennis. When he was 55, John retired from tennis and took up lawn bowls. John’s love of harness horse racing took him to many places, travelling in the early days with his father to meets around the state, from Strathalbyn to Gawler, Kadina to Port Augusta. Known as Jack in trotting circles, John and his father Archie had quite a lot of success over the years with their horses. John’s children also attended meets around the countryside and would help out as strappers.

John was always heavily involved in the community, being on the Institute committee for 23 years, including six years as President, and a board member of the Mallala Hospital for 26 years, seven years as President. He was also a devoted member of Mallala Uniting church, holding positions including Sunday School teacher and Superintendent, was a singer in the choir and an Elder for 20 years. In latter years, John helped Gwenda at the local museum, spending countless hours working with others on various projects, including shed building and cabinet making. With John’s long term and dedicated service to his community, he was awarded Mallala and District Council’s Australian Citizen of the Year award in 1984.

John and Gwenda moved into Mallala to live in 1990, but John still visited the farm each day. He continued to stay involved in the farm after his sons and grandsons took over, particularly enjoying helping his grandsons out with their sheep enterprise. While John’s health declined in recent years, he seemed to find a new lease of life when it came to seeding and harvest times. He always showed an intense interest in everything his children, their partners, and his grandchildren were doing, whether it be school, farming or sport, and attended and watched countless games of tennis, netball and football, swimming carnivals, horse events, and even calisthenics concerts. John passed away peacefully in the Hamley Bridge Memorial Hospital on June 27, 2015.


  • Information provided by the family and compiled and published by Louise Michael The Plains Producer.
John Griffiths
John Griffiths

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