10 May 2023

Much-loved dad sent off in style

| Matt Nicholls
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HUNDREDS, if not thousands, have said their goodbyes to one of the nice guys of the Far North.

The funeral service for John Preece was attended by many in Innisfail, but even more tuned in to watch the live stream.

The Weipa Bowls Club was full on Friday morning for the tribute to big John, who had called the Cape home for his last 10 years.

Many others watched from their computer screens at work or from their phones at smoko.

His long-time mates Dennis Maher and John McRoberts delivered a moving eulogy to the man who was big in stature but had an even bigger heart.

“John has touched so many lives. And those of us here today have been fortunate enough to call him a friend,” said John, a former rugby league teammate.

“We have, like many others here, experienced a fantastic bond with our fellow footballer, and champion, Preecey.

“I’m quite surprised that John asked us to help present this eulogy. Like Preecey we are renowned for always being late.

“I’m sure he’d be impressed that both of us made it here on time today.”

Dennis chimed in: “John started school at Cairns West Primary in 1968. Whilst he was an unintelligent little boy – or so he told me – priorities like fishing and crabbing took precedence.

“To his credit he used these priorities to his advantage, swapping crabs with his teacher for good grades.”

While there were plenty of stories that brought a smile, there were also stories of reflection.

“In 1987, he met his future wife Karen, who was working at Roos Football Club,” John said.

“It quickly became apparent that my flatmate and cook was smitten with the gorgeous Karen. He always said he knew he’d met the one because he was married after dating for only six months.

“This year was the 34th year of marriage.

“Karen, I hope you had better luck with him cleaning up around the house than I did!”

Dennis added: “John was a proud father of five children, Douglas, Jacinta, Lauren, Kirsten and Melanie. After Melanie, the fourth daughter he conceded defeat and stop trying for another boy.

“He was even a proud poppy to nine grandchildren, six of which are grandsons.

“John and Karen brought their children up with love and laughter.

“They enjoyed camping, fishing and had many fantastic holidays in the great outdoors.

“John and Karen taught their daughters to be strong, independent women.”

Following the eulogy, all four of John and Karen’s daughters got up to say a few words about their dad, reducing most to tears.

But largely the funeral service was held in good spirits in honour of a man who always tried to pick up those around him and put a smile on their faces.

Weipa, Cairns, Innisfail and the whole Far North have lost a top bloke and a community champion.

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