John Tasker Eulogy

Eulogy delivered on the occasion of John Tasker’s funeral at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Doncaster, by his son, Rick.

My Father, 26th October 2017

As I stand here, I see friends and relatives that have come many distances to be here for our father John Tasker. We are humbled at how he must have touched your lives and I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for coming and contacting us to celebrate his life. Naomi and I have been so overwhelmed with the amount of support everyone has shown and the admiration everyone had for our father.

It is difficult to sum up someone’s life in a few short paragraphs, especially your own father’s, so please bear with me.

Our father was born in Northcote on 3rd Jan 1933 to Herbert and Violet Tasker. Dad was the youngest of four children Basil, Audrey and Eileen. Basil passed away many years ago, and sadly Audrey was killed in a car accident at the age of 7. 

His parents raised our father to be the honest god fearing man you all knew him as. He also continued to go to church over his life and this was his and our family church. 

He completed his high schooling at Taylor’s college in Melbourne and as a young boy had a newspaper round.

He then got a job in the bake house, and there was many a time he would come home with a warm loaf of bread, cut it in half, put ¼ pound of butter on it and eat the lot. “Butter dripping down his arm.”

In the early 50’s at the age of 17 he met the one and only love of his life, Lois, and on the 28th Jan 1956, they were married. 

John continued to grow into business, and in the early 60’s went into the tyre business, Hardy Rubber, which eventually became Firestone.
In 1961 their first child was born, me. And in 1965 their second child Katrina Jane.

By 1972 our father’s career had progressed to the Victorian State Manager of Bridgestone Earthmoving Tyres. He remained in the truck tyre industry until his retirement.

However, in February 1973, our lives were to be changed forever.

Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, and was rushed to the RCH in Melbourne, as I remember, possibly to never come out.

The initial treatment proved successful, and there was real hope. But after some two years of continued treatment and countless days at the RCH, Katie tragically passed away on 25th July 1976 at the age of 10.

The support of family and friends was overwhelming as it is today.

From this heartbreak, has come the proud accomplishments my father and mother achieved.

With the partnership of two other families, Stan and Trudie, who lost a precious little girl Wendy, and Nigel and Karren, who lost their cherished little son Scott, they formed the RCH Auxiliary charity CIKA, or Cancer In Kids@RCH. Katie loved butterflies, Wendy loved nasturtiums, and Scott loved chasing seagulls, each of which is symbolised in the CIKA logo used today.

From these tragedies, and the hard work and dedication from these parents, still grieving their loss, CIKA is now stronger than ever and raises some $200,000 a year towards Cancer research in children, and is still run by volunteers.

The short life of Katie Jane has affected thousands and thousands of people, in raising money for the Royal Children’s hospital, for research, support, and for the doctors, so that children and families today may not have to endure what we went through.

I am and so proud of my parents and of all the people who have had any involvement with CIKA over many years.

Our parents placed a dedication window in this church, so if you have a moment please look at this before you leave.

After the heartbreak of my sister passing, in December 1978, my beautiful little sister Naomi was born. Whilst my parents were in their forties, this gave them a new lease on life. I was there on the day she was born. I escorted my father into the delivery room, and as he hated anything medical, I then had to promptly escort him out before he passed out, as he could not handle the smell of the delivery room.

Dad was continuously involved in something and was always a doer. He generally worked to live for his family, and on top of this, anything he started to get involved with he would always take it all the way.

For instance, in 1972, he enrolled me to play football with the East Doncaster Junior Football Club. First, he started as just the runner, then soon, team manager, and then before long he was president of the club. And by 1979 he was president of the hole darn league, the Doncaster and Districts Football League, which is now known today as the Yarra Junior Football League, and, dare I say, the biggest Aussie Rules Junior Football League in world. Even up to a handful of years ago he served on the league’s tribunal. Dad could never say no.The friends and relationships our father created through the football world, will no doubt live for a very long time.

Another example of dad starting something and not stopping. In the late 90’s his brother in law Brian Howell asked him to go to the then know Preston Club, now known as the Darebin RSL. Well, once again he went from just being a member, then onto the committee, then the finance and membership committee up until a few years ago.

Our father was always a very proud and private man. He was never the life of the party, but he was the kind of person that would drive everyone there and then everyone home. He was never for small talk, but generally, if he had something to say, it was important.

Dad always had an issue with time, he could never stand to be late. If we ever had to go to places, we would be there anywhere up to 3 hours early… you know, in case of traffic.

I believe my father was an inspiration to many people, but he would never want any credit.

I know he was so proud of us and especially his grandchildren. As with his character, he was never big on playing and mucking around, but inside he was always excited to see them every time.

Dad could never accept the decline of the love of his life and subsequently, this proved detrimental to his health and wellbeing. For the past eighteen months dad has been in the care of the Mingarra Aged Care Facility and on behalf of my sister and myself, we wish to thank you so sincerely for the care, love and dignity you gave him until the end.

Dad I love you, you will always be in my heart, and I hope to make you proud.

A photograph from several years ago when Lou Learmonth hosted a gathering to thank our sponsors and honour the families that founded CIKA.

Left to right: Katie’s parents, John and Lois, another CIKA founder, Trudie Gore, Kaye, Denise Caruso from the RCH Children’s Cancer Centre.