CHAMPIONS AGAIN: John and Joy Sturgeon’s champion Murray grey bull at last year’s Brisbane Ekka.
CHAMPIONS AGAIN: John and Joy Sturgeon’s champion Murray grey bull at last year’s Brisbane Ekka.

Big John had almost as big a heart as he was

AFFECTIONATELY known as Big John, John Sturgeon was a man with a heart as big as he was.

Wife Joy said he always looked grumpy but it was just a defensive mechanism until he got to know people.

"The grumpy business was just a front and he was really just as soft as butter," she said.

"He was also a very generous man and touched a lot of lives.

"He never knocked anyone back and was just as generous with me too."

He wasn't domesticated and, if I went away, I would leave a tin of baked beans with a can opener and tea bags in a cup on the counter. Out of all the steak he produced, he never once cooked it for himself.

Sadly, on January 24, John died. But it is through his loving family and caring friends that the Greenlands man will be remembered.

Born on December 3, 1939, John was only an infant when his father Jack left for the Second World War.

During the war John and his mother Nao lived in Rockhampton with her mother but, upon Jack's return, they moved to Manly before moving to Stanthorpe some years later.

He attended school at Wynnum State primary and high schools and left halfway through Year 9 after starting work at an abattoir in the school holidays.

It was not until John was 23 that he married the love of his life, Joy.

Wed on April 20, 1963, Joy said the two would have celebrated 50 years of marriage this year.

"John always used to be a perfectionist - everything had to be precise, accurate and spot-on," Joy said.

"He would tell people that's why he married me."

While John was better known as a butcher and cattleman he tired his hand at any opportunity that crossed his path.

John's various career activities included owning his own milk business and being a roadside orange vendor.

In the 1980s he was one of the largest meat wholesalers in the country, he was also one of the county's most successful Murray grey breeders, an internationally renowned cattle judge, race car team owner, boxing manager, greyhound breeder, fanatical farmer and leader and motivator.

Joy said despite John's many successes, there was one he prided himself on.

"One year he won grand champion Murray grey female and calf in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

"He also took out the Hordern Trophy and in the same year won the interbreed of all breeds.

"I also think he knew every meat wholesaler in Brisbane.

"His meat had to be perfect and, before he put it on the truck, if he had any doubts he would make them open the carton."

Despite his busy life, the 73-year-old father of one and grandfather of four always had family on his mind.

"No matter what he was doing, the kids were always following behind him," Joy said.

"He was a very good family man ... and thought the world of our son Young John."

Other passions of John's included his big old yellow tractor, his rottweilers and greyhounds, his numerous other animals and his love of Fords.

Joy said there were too many moments during their time together to pick just one that was quintessentially John.

"When we were young we went to a ball and I had a rather low-cut dress on and this guy who worked with me came up and said something after a few too many beers and John followed him into the toilet and pushed his down the loo," she laughed.

"He used to continually call me... Joy, Joy, Joy... everyone used to make joke of it.

"He was also high maintenance - his mother and grandmother spoilt him rotten.

"He wasn't domesticated and, if I went away, I would leave a tin of baked beans with a can opener and tea bags in a cup on the counter.

"Out of all the steak he produced, he never once cooked it for himself.

Joy said about 12 months ago John told her the three he was most proud of achieving.

"He said, 'I've married the best woman, I've bred the best cattle and I've brought up a good son.'

"As far as he was concerned, those were the three best three things he did in his lifetime."

At the end of John's eulogy, his son wrote: "Gone too soon he worked hard, lived hard, achieving so much in his 73 years but, above all, he loved hard."



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