Jack Ward at his Pottsville home with his montage of musical memories.
Jack Ward at his Pottsville home with his montage of musical memories. Contributed

Man of music with recalls long career

FOR Murwillumbah born Jack Ward, music has been an important part of his life since he was a boy. In recent years physical infirmity has prevented Jack from playing the organ at St Mary and Ambrose Catholic Church at Pottsville but he still has a love for music and in particular the band music of his heyday.

Jack was given the Christian names Wilfred Vincent when he was born on December 29, 1923 in Murwillumbah’s Sunnyside Hospital and from a young age he was raised by his widowed mother Kathleen who operated a hair dressing salon.

Jack received his primary and secondary school education in Murwillumbah and after leaving Murwillumbah High school he took on odd jobs. He spent a few months detailing cars for Andy Fisher at Murwillumbah’s Broadway and clerked for a time at the office of the New England Motor Company situated in the building that also housed the Murwillumbah Hotel.

For a while Jack enjoyed working for Mr Percival James Ward, who conducted a machine and engineering business. Mr Ward belonged to Murwillumbah’s Seventh Day Adventist Church so Jack got Saturday mornings off work.

At around 16 years of age Jack Ward started work for the Tweed Newspaper Company in Church Street, Murwillumbah under the works manager of the linotype department Stephen Silk.

At roughly the same time Jack began playing the piano at local dances in the Tweed’s country halls. Jack had been taught to play by his mother Kathleen, who was a music teacher and he later became adept at playing the saxophone and clarinet. Over the years the halls at Dungay, Chillingham, Crystal Creek, Numinbah Eungella and Tumbulgum reverberated to the sound of Jacks’ music

In April 1942 Jack Ward travelled to Brisbane and enlisted for service during World War II in the Royal Australian Air Force. During the war years Jack never lost sight of his music and gained valuable experience playing in various big bands.

After receiving his discharge in March 1946 Jack returned to work for the Tweed Newspaper Company where he graduated from working in the linotype department to various other tasks that included proof reading and layouts to selling job printing.

Jack also returned to playing in bands and around 1947 he started playing with Dave O’Shea, who was the band leader at Coolangatta’s Jazzland. Jack was in the last band to play at Jazzland and after it closed its doors in October 1951 he played with his band at the Empire Dance Palais in Tweed Heads. When Danceland opened in Coolangatta in March 1953 Jack and his band played there. Later Western Australian Jim Riley took over the band when Jack left it and headed north to Linville.

Following the sudden death of John Martin, advertising manager of the Tweed and South Coast Daily (our paper’s name at the time) Jack Ward was appointed in his place on June 21, 1949 on a six month probationary period. His position was confirmed on November 9, 1949.

Jack Gray, who had introduced the early morning delivery service of The Tweed Daily newspaper to the Lower Tweed in 1926, chauffeured Jack Ward on his rounds between Murwillumbah and Surfers Paradise as he sold advertising space. Jack Ward would then return to Murwillumbah to do the layouts and proof read them ready for production

Jack’s resignation from this position came into effect on May 8, 1953 and Wal Martin took over the job.

Jack left the Tweed for about 18 months when he became the publican of the Pioneer Hotel at Linville due west of Brisbane. On his return to Murwillumbah he bought the Early Bird store, a mixed business selling small goods, bread and fresh produce. Despite surviving the inundations of several minor floods, the 1956 flood completely ruined the business and Jack walked out owning only a push bike.

Jack went to work for Stan Fenner greasing cars on the lubritorium and six weeks later his prowess at selling earned him a position as a car salesman.

Music however was still Jack’s main driving force and by the mid 1950s he had started playing with Claude Carnell at Claude’s Currumbin Beach Playroom Cabaret. Jack stayed there until 1960 when he relocated to Beenleigh and became sales manager at Midway Motors (now Motorama).

In 1965 Jack was lured away with the promise of an executive position with an insurance company subject to performance. Jack attained the necessary degree and became a fellow of the Australian Insurance Institute. He retired as Queensland Manager of Zurich Insurance Company in 1983.

Jack Ward returned to his music and took up teaching piano, clarinet, saxophone and organ in Beenleigh until settling in Pottsville with his wife Judy in 1992.

‘Despite surviving the inundations of several minor floods, the 1956 flood completely ruined the business and Jack walked out owning only a push bike’



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