Hillarys sailor and Joondalup council executive’s legacy of love

John Byrne en route to Rottnest.
John Byrne en route to Rottnest.

PERLE didn’t sail that day.

Her crew at Hillarys Yacht Club for this month’s annual Dash for Cash was in shock.

Their bowman John Byrne, much-loved family man, friend to many and governance co-ordinator at the City of Joondalup, had been struck down the day before in a motorbike crash on the Hester Avenue freeway off-ramp.

Out of respect they didn’t race, the same reason people came in droves to Pinnaroo on Tuesday – the 47-year-old’s popularity and ability to listen and “love everyone” underlined in a big funeral.

Perle skipper and step-dad John Bird told the gathering how John had pestered his father for a bike at age four, taken to lifesaving with Sorrento, joined the Army Reserve, played colts football for Subiaco and been Wanneroo’s junior mayor – the start of a long career in local government where colleagues held him in high regard.

He implored people to read John’s 2018 LinkedIn entry, Today I graduated, on gaining his Masters degree in business administration at age 46 before reading a tribute from fellow helmsman John Cable who said the Dockers supporter “had a terrific ability to lift people around him with a bit of a chat and a smile”.

John’s eldest of five daughters, Amy, recalled a dad prepared to get her out of any tight spot no matter the hour, after partner Julie thanked her now guardian angel for “loving us (including her two boys) so intensely and unconditionally”.

Amy had been puzzled to find five top tips for being a good dad for 2019 on her hard-working father’s computer, tips she said he could have written himself, including establishing a fathering legacy now as you don’t know how long you have.

John taking part in the Fremantle to Geraldton Race last October.

His mum Sue said he was a passionate person who loved his family, friends and the environment.

“He was a lovely kid,” she concluded in a celebration of his life presided over by his friend from Mt Barker local government days, Pastor Mark Colbung.

Rod Stewart’s Sailing sounded out as a parting tribute.