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Byron Shire
January 30, 2023

Honouring Big John

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Big John Keevers after his morning surf. Photo Sean O’Shea.

Nikki Poulos

There were many who knew Big John Keevers well because John always made you feel welcome. John always took the time to make you feel special and he always engaged and connected from the heart, he made you laugh. Most of all John made sure that he knew who you were and that you knew who he was in return. That was the guy he was.

John was a larger than life character but those who truly had the pleasure and blessing to know him, would describe him as tall and big, a tank of a guy, but more so a guy with a big warm hearted, cheeky and frisky personality, that stood out a mile. John had massive shoulders that could hold you and the world up, and that’s where he held his wife and soulmate Possum.

John was a true local; his ancestors were from country, he was descended from the Watego family and he was born in a little wooden shack on the grass right in front of Rae’s. John was the undisputed King of the ‘Table of Knowledge’ and after his daily sunrise surf would hold court all morning from his perch at the table. Possum would cook a fresh hot breakfast and they entertained all who emerged from their surf sessions, or those who just dropped by for a chat – yet ended up hanging out for hours.

I was there for John’s paddle out. I wasn’t going to miss my opportunity to say farewell to John as I never got to say goodbye in person. Not many of us did due to his sudden passing. The sea was rough, the swell big and wild, yet the 180 or so of us ventured out to the open bay. Some took longer than others due to the conditions but we all finally made it. Serendipitously the seas calmed and a lull ensued. We were able to form a circle around Possum holding tight to Millsy riding on the back of the jet ski, where we all held hands; no mean feat for that many people. Grinning at each other, feeling connected to the moment and to each other, and to big John. We threw our flowers as Possum gave his ashes back to the sea, we cheered and hollered to send his spirit on. Two whales joined us as well as our Brahminy kite flying overhead. We were all there to celebrate the man that was Big Johnny Keevers. Afterwards we all caught a wave for John, to honour the man that had made us all feel welcomed to the place that he was born.

John’s spirit lives on through us our connection to him and our community. Bless you John.

 


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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute for my cousin Johnny! He was such a wonderful person and sadly passed leaving such a huge loss to all
    He was so iconic!
    Thanks also to Sean O’Shea for the wonderful photos.

  2. Thanks. A lovely tribute. I knew John well as we surfed together and our families went away camping.
    He was the King of Wategos and will be sadly missed.

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