Remembering John Healy OAM

This week the College received some sad news, with the passing of former volunteer staff member, Joeys past parent and friend and mentor to many, Mr John Francis Healy OAM.

The story of John’s association with the College goes back over 40 years, and in that time he has left his mark on not only the lives of many Joeys boys, but on the inherent culture and spirit of St Joseph’s College. John’s dear friend and former SJC Deputy Headmaster, Mr Jimmie Gray, recounts his connection with this wonderful man and true ‘Joeys legend’. 

John Healy first came into contact with St Joseph’s College on a wintry Sunday afternoon in July 1978, when Br Anthony Boyd and I met up with him when we were guests at a Parramatta v Eastern Suburbs game at the old Cumberland Oval. John said to us, “I would have liked my boys to have gone to Joeys but circumstances have not been right.”

Two years on, and the circumstances were right. John’s youngest son, Paul, asked if he could attend the College, because his best friend, Tim Dalton, was going there. Both finished in 1984. Older brother, Michael, liked what he saw and asked if he could complete his schooling there, too, which he did 1981-1982.

Meanwhile the College’s centenary year, 1981, was upon us and in late 1980 we invited John to help with the fitness training of first, our rowers, and then the rugby and athletics teams. Thus began a remarkable association between John Healy and St Joseph’s College that went on strongly for some thirty years, particularly through his expertise as a trainer and the philosophy of sport and life that he provided not only the boys but also the teachers and coaches with whom he came into contact.

“Success is the peace of mind that follows as a result of knowing that you have done your absolute best to achieve the very best that you are capable of doing.”

Mr John Healy OAM

John Healy’s impact over the years on both boys and staff can be observed in countless ways. So many of his thoughts on sport and human endeavour became part of the College’s mental approach in the 1980s through to present times. I can still hear them now, at the first day of training each week he would often say to the assembled players, “Congratulations on your efforts last Saturday, and I hope you enjoyed your Sunday. But last Saturday is now a memory, a story for your grandchildren. Winning begins here at training today, on Monday. Let’s get started.” Or he once wrote, “Success is the peace of mind that follows as a result of knowing that you have done your absolute best to achieve the very best that you are capable of doing.” And he often said, “God has given you the talent – but mental toughness, that comes from you.”

John Healy’s contribution to the College and to the wider community has been recognised in a number of ways throughout the years. In 1987 the Old Boys Union was so impressed that it invited John to become one of that rare number, an Honorary Old Boy. In 1990 the College developed a special strength and fitness complex beneath the St Pius X Building and named it the John Healy Fitness Centre. This area was transferred to other sites in later years. In 1998 John received the Medal of the Order of Australia “for service to the community through charitable organisations and for his work with young men in their sport and personal development.” In the mid-1980s, a rowing Four was blessed in his name in acknowledgment of his service to the College rowing program.

John, as Chairman of City Tatts for many years, made very significant efforts to improve the welfare of people doing it hard; a person who, without fanfare, often visited those down on their fortune; a person who would never miss each week being with a friend who was sick or another who was disabled; and a person who regularly worked voluntarily and anonymously doing the least spectacular tasks for those at Matt Talbot Hostel. 

In the time that John was directly associated with the College’s 1st and 2nd Rugby XVs, the 1st XV were GPS Premiers 19 times (12 of these as Champions, that is, they won all of their games), and the 2nd XV were Premiers 20 times. These statistics alone indicate the great value that John brought to the College’s training in terms of strength and fitness, courage and commitment.

John was predeceased by his wife, Virginia, and his eldest boy, John (who was buried from the College Chapel. He is survived by his daughter, Jane, and sons, Michael and Paul.

The College gratefully acknowledges Jimmie’s snapshot of the man he knew so well. 

John Healy’s legacy to St Joseph’s College has been quite extraordinary, and always totally aligned with our Marist values. We extend our sincere sympathy to his family at this sad time.

The Chairman of City Tattersalls Club, Pat Campion (1973), posted this fitting tribute to the club’s former Chairman, John Healy OAM