John Leo Cantwell January 14, 1930 – October 10, 2012
John Leo Cantwell January 14, 1930 – October 10, 2012 Contributed

Dedicated to faith, family, farm and sport

JOHN Leo Cantwell was born on January 14, 1930, in front of the Sandy Creek Hotel.

His mother always joked this was the reason he could never go past it in later life without stopping.

Leo was the fourth child of Patrick and Elizabeth Cantwell of Wheatvale.

He is the brother of Brian and Zeta, Vince, Mary, Sheila and Des.

Life began at Wheatvale on the family farm.

Leo attended school at Bony Mountain State School until he was 13 years old.

He began working on the farm at this age and with the shock death of his father, when Leo was 17, he and his brothers took over the running of the family farm, always overseen by mother Lizzy.

Over the next few years as the older boys left, the running of the farm was left to Leo and his youngest brother Des, which was to remain a successful partnership for the next 50 years.

The family remains very grateful to Des, Chris and the family for their support of Leo over the last few years of this partnership.

Leo's four great loves were his faith, family, farming and sport.

Leo was dedicated to his faith and family to the very end.

If Leo heard someone had died or was ill his first reaction would be to have a Mass said for them.

His sporting life began at 18, playing rugby league and cricket in which he excelled. He instilled his love of sport into his children and grandchildren.

Leo began his football career playing for Collegians, but the lure of a beautiful young Allora girl named Rita Neal led to him changing his allegiances to the Allora Rugby League Club where he made lifelong friends and was recently named in the Allora Team of the Century.

In 1953, he married Rita Neal in St Patrick's Church, Allora.

They made their home on the family farm at Wheatvale. They went on to have six children - Kathy, Jenny, Liz, Mick and twin girls Anne and Rita.

Leo has 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (with two soon to be born) of whom he was very proud.

Going back to his pride in his family (much to Rita's alarm) he brought his whole football team up to the hospital when his first child Kathy was born.

There were many happy family occasions held on the farm with the Cantwell and Neal extended families and later years with his dearly beloved grandchildren who have very fond memories of this.

Leo had a great love of the Wheatvale and Warwick community and was involved in many organisations. He was one of the three founding members of the Wheatvale Cricket Club which has been a very successful club for the last 45 years.

Leo has now been made a life member of this club.

His son, grandsons and many nephews have been and are still active in this club.

Leo and Rita were both involved in their children's school life at Wheatvale State School.

He was president of the P&C for a number of years.

Leo's love of dairying led him to become heavily involved in the Cunningham Dairymen's Organisation.

With the death of his cousin and good friend Basil McMahon, Leo was elected to board of the Warwick Dairy Co-Op of which he became deputy chairman. He was also part of the inaugural board of Dairyfields.

Leo's other great love was the Brisbane Broncos. He was an extremely "one eyed" supporter (as is Rita). Although he instilled in his children that the referees' decision should be final, every time the Broncos were beaten it was usually Bill Harrigan's fault.

After Brisbane won their first premiership in 1992 Leo strongly suggested that he and Mick drive to Red Hill to join in the celebrations. (Although finding a driver was a problem…)

In later years Leo's health suffered and he reluctantly relocated to the Bisley St unit with Rita. This was a very difficult decision for Leo as the family farm had been his life.

Due to further decline in his health, Leo moved to Akooramak where he was to be later joined by his wife Rita.

The family would like to thank Dr Ross Hetherington for his care of Leo over many years and Dr John Kiss for taking care of Leo in his final days.

We would also like to sincerely thank the staff of Akooramak for their loving and compassionate care of Leo over the last two and a half years. The staff took extraordinary measures to make Leo's passing as comfortable as possible for him and his family for which we will always be grateful.

The family would like to thank you for your support and attendance at his funeral.

- Contributed by family

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