Friends, family and acquaintances filled the Treelands Drive Community Centre to celebrate the life of Jon ‘JR’ Riordan OAM last Sunday.
Suffering ill health over the past five years, JR was believed to have had Lyme disease; during that time he suffered several strokes – he passed away at Maclean hospital on January 15.
JR had a passion for helping disadvantaged children and spent many of his waking hours planning and fundraising for the cause, mostly through Variety – the Children’s Charity, but not exclusively.
In 2006 he was named Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year and in 2010 he was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his work.
Around the Lower Clarence and in Grafton, JR and former 2GF announcer Ron Bell set up gift trees each Christmas to receive donated presents, which were later distributed at a Christmas party held at the Yamba Bowling Club.
In 2011, JR organised, with the help of Yamba businesses and Variety, a holiday in Yamba for 12 families devastated by the Lockyer Valley flood disaster.
These two initiatives were just some among the many he organised over the years.
JR’s fundraising escapades were well known throughout Variety in both Queensland and NSW.
At his funeral, lifelong friend Bill Moore, who said they had “shared a lot of wonderful times: from school to the air force, Variety bashing and life in general”, relayed the words of Variety NSW’s Bash director Stewart Telfer to those who attended.
Among his Variety club peers, JR was known as ‘Plucka’, named after the duck character on television show Hey Hey it’s Saturday.
“Plucka was one of the great characters of the Variety Bash,” Mr Moore read out.
“He would come to me with an idea for a party stop and they were always a huge success.
“He embodied the spirit of the Bash with; firstly, the much needed money for our special needs children; then, secondly, celebrating the cause by making sure we all enjoyed our fundraising efforts on the Bash with a lot of fun and laughs.
“Plucka was an ordinary Australian doing extraordinary things for our kids.”
JR was also well-loved and respected among Lower Clarence’s returned service people.
“The members of the Returned and Services League of Australia extend our deepest sympathy,” his record of service/eulogy stated.
JR enlisted for the RAAF on December 3, 1963; and was discharged from the RAAF on December 2, 1972.
For service to his country, JR was awarded the: Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975, Vietnam Medal, Australian Defence Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and Returned from Active Service Badge.
“JR was a well respected member of the community and of the NSW RSL.
“He will be sadly missed.”