It's not easy keeping up with 100-year-old Jack Sulsters, as the Suncare team in Bundaberg recently discovered. Born in Holland during the Great Depression and immigrating to Australia in 1961, this is Jack’s story.
Jack started his career as a woodworker and his craftsmanship was in demand during the war. A skilled shipbuilder, he worked on a vessel called the MS Oranje, a Dutch passenger liner used as a hospital ship during the war. In his later life, he crafted two exact replica model ships, which are now on display in the Bundaberg RSL and the RSL in Orange NSW.
Jack also made history during the war when he completed an ice-skating speed and endurance race known as Elfstedentocht. In those days, Jack could not afford ice skates, so he crafted them himself out of wood. The race is almost 200 kilometres long and can only be completed when the lakes are frozen. A commemorative tile on a bridge in Holland still marks his achievement today.
Not all Jack's memories from this era are happy, as he was captured by the Germans during the war, and while he managed to escape, he spent many traumatic months in hiding.
In 1961, Jack immigrated to Australia with his wife and three children along with three of his brothers. He built the family’s first home in Fairfield, Sydney, with the help of his brothers. Jack loves playing the piano accordion and mouth organ and dancing has also played a big part in his life. This led to his involvement in running the Continental Carnival Club from 1981. The Club was a place for Europeans to come together to dance and celebrate their culture.
Jack shared a love of music with his partner, Joy until she passed away in 2000, however, with the support of Suncare services, Jack is still able to go dancing every Wednesday. Jack celebrated his 100th birthday enjoying a ride in a glider, a party with friends and family, a visit from local politician, David Batt, and letters of congratulations from HRH Queen Elizabeth II and the Governor-General.
Jack truly is an inspiration.
Images below include:
Jack Sulsters with one of his many models
Jack with one of his exact replica models of the MS Oranje which he built
Jack - Crowned Continental Carnival King in the 1980s
Jack playing his piano accordion and mouth organ - a passion of his
One of Jack's treasured possessions, his piano accordion
The street in Holland where Jack grew up during the Great Depression
Jack and his brother building his house in Sydney
Letter of congratulations to Jack for his 100th birthday - from HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Jack in 1942 while competing in a 200km endurance race, Elfstedentocht.
Jack's certificate of achievement for gliding to 2000ft - on his 100th birthday!
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