Jackie saw a newspaper ad for the ‘Paint Your Wagon’ audition in 1993. He showed it to Karin and said ‘let’s go!’, she agreed and they became such a vital part of Pinelands Players that very soon we couldn’t imagine the Society without them.
Most people knew him as a builder of sets, but Jack was first and foremost a comedian. He was in his element when he was making people laugh. He and two pals formed ‘The Nitwits’ 50 years ago and until a few years ago when one of them passed away, they performed continually. They featured in ice-shows and even appeared on TV in a variety show 40 years ago – when television finally reached South Africa. Memories of Jack miming to Spike Jones with his contraption of bells, whistles & horns will always bring a smile.
He was an incredibly talented man; he could decorate a cake with delicacy and turn a scrap of leather into a holster or wallet. In fact, show Jack a scrap of anything and he could turn it into something useful. He made amazing props, costumes and accessories. From very real looking firearms to working fountains, spears, saddle-bags, boots, tables, benches and so much more. One had to be very careful not to take advantage of Jackie because he was incredibly generous with his time and skills and just never knew how to say ‘no’.
Actually, Jack did say ‘no’ to me once. In ‘Flight of Fantasy’ I asked him to sing a song, a very poignant song called ‘I won’t send Roses’. ‘I can’t sing, I won’t remember the words, I can’t do it!’ I bullied him into it. At first people started to giggle – after all this was Jack and he made you laugh – I thought I’d made a horrible mistake; then the audience went very quiet and there was a flurry of tissues as Jackie performed the song with sincerity and depth…I bawled every night.
Jack missed his work after he retired, he missed it sorely. It wasn’t work it was a calling; teaching challenged people how to create useful things and giving them pride in their work. They loved ‘Uncle Jack’ very much. With his talents Jack could have chosen another path, he chose the one where he would do the most good. The Landsdowne Methodist Church and later The Thornton Methodist Church benefited from Jack’s talents as well, he devised and directed dozens of shows to increase their coffers.
I know you all have wonderful memories of Jack; he was a truly good man who had the gift of spreading happiness, laughter and love wherever he went. The world is certainly a poorer place without him in it. Along with many friends, we’ll miss him so much. It’s hard to even imagine the extent to which he’ll be missed by Karin and the family who were so close to him.
So our thoughts are with them as they go forward on life’s journey without Jack’s physical presence. But his spirit will be with them – and us, forever. Wherever there is laughter and a smile, he’ll be there.