One of Taree's most successful businessmen, Callile John Yarad, known as John, died on Friday, July 19, 2019, aged 86 years.
He is survived by partner Lucille, daughters Jo-Anne and Tracey, and grandchild Ben and Ashleigh, as well as sisters Laurice and Pauline and brother Bruce. His wife Rae pre-deceased him.
John's funeral was held at the Manning Great Lakes Memorial Gardens and true to his giving spirit, his family asked that donations to Can Assist Manning Valley be made in lieu of flowers.
Family friend, Merrick Spicer delivered the eulogy, saying John's time at the Manning Hospital in the last few days of his life was mercifully short. He spent that time surrounded by his immediate family and Lou.
Merrick began John's life story with the following:
"A lasting image of John is of him on the back deck of his beloved (boat) Apache with the afternoon sun beating down on him, sitting in his speedos, bare chested with a pair of underpants or a singlet over his face and head. Asleep."
The early years
John's grandparents came to Australia from Lebanon in 1894 and settled in the Dalby region of Queensland. They initially farmed, then took over a shop in the local town and, sometime later, moved to Sydney to make a future for their family.
John's father, Michael Callile Yarad (Mick), met and married a woman who had recently arrived from Lebanon by the name of 'Angel', they having met at an Orthodox Church function. Both Mick and Angel worked hard doing whatever work they could find.
They had four children. The first two, Laurice and John, were born in Sydney. The second, Bruce and Pauline, in Taree.
Mick and Angel settled in Taree with their children John and Laurice. John's grandfather had seen an opportunity and bought the property on the corner of Victoria and Pulteney Streets which came to be known as 'Yarads Corner'. The grandfather opened a general haberdashery business known as 'CA Yarad and Son'. Those premises are now occupied by Yarads Menswear and Iguana Surfwear.
The move to Taree occurred in 1933 shortly after John was born. John commenced his formal schooling at St Joseph's Public School in Taree which was a Catholic infants and primary school. John didn't last long at St Joseph's and, whilst not being expelled, it was a situation of 'jumping before he was pushed'. The nuns had caught him kissing a girl behind the sheds when he was six. His parents were summoned to the school, and Mick, indignant that his son could be accused of such a thing, took John out of that school and enrolled him at Taree Primary.
When John was at St Joseph's and later Taree Primary, he hated to wear shoes. This was something that stayed with him all his life. He would leave home wearing shoes and socks and somewhere along the walk from home to school, he would stop, take his shoes and socks off, hide them in a tree, or behind a letterbox and head off to school. In the afternoon he would collect his shoes and socks, put them back on, and go home. His mother, Angel, could never quite work out how it was that he had such dirty feet after wearing shoes to school each day.
His high schooling, and later his brother Bruce's high schooling, was at St Joseph's Hunter's Hill, known as 'Joeys'. John was a boarder there in 1947 and 1948. He would write home saying to his mother that the people at the school were 'trying to poison me' and 'save me'. John simply didn't like it there.
But he made the most of every opportunity and using some of his dad's bookmaking skills, ran a book on anything. He covered the major races including the Melbourne Cup notwithstanding the fact that he was only 13 or 14 years of age. One infamous incident saw him running a book during Mass at Joeys, taking bets on which candle would go out first.
John's sporting prowess started to show itself while he was at Joeys. It was there that he was taught to box by Pat Gleeson who was himself a light heavyweight champion. Apparently Pat Gleeson had asked John's parents that John be allowed to become a professional boxer. His parents were opposed to that idea and John's life took a different direction. He also started his love of rugby union while at Joeys.
John's working life
John eventually got his way, left Joeys and returned to work in the family store at 14 years and nine months of age.
Upon turning 18, he commenced 12 months National Service in the Army. He became an army cook and, when asked why he had done this, he said that the cooks drove Jeeps and the soldiers marched. John loved the army life and apart from being a cook, continued to excel in sport.
He played rugby union for the battalion football team and was runner up in the final of the inter-battalion all services boxing. At that point he was the second best boxer in Australia of all the National Service enlistees. He lost the final and when he came home, he had his nose squashed across his face. His mother was very much taken aback and was sympathetic towards him. He said to her words to the effect, "one lucky punch Mum, that's all it was, one lucky punch".
After National Service he returned to work in the family business where his brother Bruce was also working. On July 1, 1956, Mick came to them and gave them each a key to the shop. The key was free, however the shop wasn't. It took the brothers years to pay their father back for the business.
John excelled in retail and was loved by his customers. Immediately after he and Bruce started work together, they incorporated the company 'Yarads Pty Limited'. John was the inaugural CEO and his aim was to make Yarads, the store, something special. He remodelled the shop. It became a flagship menswear store in Australia. It featured in retail magazines and was regularly visited by owners of other businesses to see what could be done.
John stocked Anthony Squires suits, much to his father's chagrin. He told John "You'll go broke for sure". At the time, an average suit was about 20 pounds, the Anthony Squires suits were 100 pounds.
John and Bruce didn't go broke. They were a success story. Yarads became a city store in the country and attracted clientele from miles around, as it still does. John was a great salesman and great at picking trends in fashion.
John didn't wait for the work to come to him. He and Bruce would head out to Bulahdelah, Comboyne, Port Macquarie, Gloucester, and measure up the men for the local Deb Balls. He would either sell them or rent them suits. Sometimes it was a long way to go to measure up four or five fellows for suits, but the customers really appreciated it.
One of John's innovations in retail was to put the name of the shop on the outside of sponsored jumpers. A common thing now, but John was a trailblazer. The story has it that three English first grade soccer players were being toured around country NSW and were brought into Yarads. John gave them each a track suit which had the word 'Yarads' displayed across the back. Sometime later, they received a telephone call from a friend who was travelling in the UK, saying that he had been at a football game at Wembley Stadium and looking down at the reserve bench, saw three players and emblazoned across the backs of each of them was the word 'Yarads'.
He was an ideas man in all areas of his life. This year a credit product came onto the market known as 'After Pay'. It allows a customer to take the goods home and pay later. Well, it was John Yarad who had championed that idea in the 1960s. He started up the idea of running accounts at the menswear store. At that time, Taree had a population of 5000 or 6000. Yarads ran about 1000 active accounts. People would come in, dress the way they wanted to dress and walk out paying a small deposit. John trusted and had faith in people and in by far the majority of cases, his trust was well placed.
He was a generous man and regularly gave away clothes to the people who needed it. There is a story that a young fellow came into Yarads wanting to hire a suit. He was about 15 years of age and John served him. John was in his early 30s and he asked him what he wanted the suit for. When he was told it was the boy's grandfather's funeral, John provided the suit, but wouldn't charge him.
John retired in 2007. He and Bruce had worked together in the shop for about 54 years. Bruce recalls there wasn't a day when they wouldn't argue about something but the arguments never lasted more than a few minutes, and that the love they had for each other saw them work together as a wonderful team for in excess of five decades.
John and Bruce retired not long after the shop had become computerised. John bemoaned the advent of computers. Suddenly everything was accountable, money in the till was accountable and the stock in the shop was accountable. "Mate, the cash dried up overnight".
John was a wonderful sportsman throughout his life in all manner of sports. He was a boxer of some repute.
He was a track cyclist and achieved some success in the local competitions. He was a great dancer. He and his late wife Rae were known as the jitter bug and jive champions of this area. John, being the showman he was, could do the flying splits from the stage and land on the floor of the hall uninjured.
He was a great surf lifesaver involved with the Taree/Old Bar club for many years. He was a very powerful swimmer and was the recognised belt swimmer for the surf club. He was a water skier. Legend has it that he was the first to ski on the Manning River and he was for some time a feature at the local Aquatic Festival. He taught each of his children and most of their friends to water ski. He was good friends with Fred Williams and Graham Barclay.
He was an enthusiastic horse rider, an endurance rider, riding long distances and enjoying some success. He bought two horses for his daughter Tracey, actually it was one for Tracey and one for himself. He and Tracey rode together and it was a time of her life that she treasured because she had her father to herself. This lasted until Tracey was 16 years of age and she was given an ultimatum by her father - it was either horse riding or music, she couldn't be doing both.
He was a pigeon fancier, a sporting interest that not many knew he had. He was a good snooker and billiards player.
For the last 30 or more years, one of John's major sporting interests was game fishing. John has always had boats, and for the most part, big boats. Some years ago he started to compete in the major NSW Port Stephens Game Tournament and later in tournaments up and down the coast as distant as Far North Queensland. He skippered the boat in the early years and, in the later years, put professional skippers on to drive his boat and find the fish.
His recreation times mostly revolved around water and boats. His daughters tell of the wonderful family times they had as children, with weekends on the boat, swimming, sunning themselves and having their friends along and enjoying the outdoors.
Other parts of his recreation involved music. He was in Bradley's Band as a drummer. He was a great drummer, self-taught and he couldn't read music, but he had rhythm.
John, like his father and grandfather before him, also loved racing and he had quite a reputation as a punter. He and good friend Joe Berry would go to Taree racetrack to punt.
In his younger days, when he was working in the shop, come Saturday morning he would go out to Crowdy and jump on board the Burns' trawler and he would work as a deck hand Saturday nights and Sundays. He desperately wanted to be a professional fisherman, but his father, whose views John respected all of his life, said no.
John had a string of boats over the years, starting with a Milligan nipper which was a locally made boat. He always had a good crew of people to help him. He could back his last boat, a 47 foot Riviera, into a tight pen better than most.
John had a love of movies, but not all movies, only westerns. He had a love of animals and for many years had German shepherds. He didn't own a dog for many years before he died but others in his family, namely his two daughters, have always had dogs, and to hear John talk about those dogs, you would think he couldn't stand them, though deep down he had a real soft spot them.
He was a person who loved company and loved people. He loved social events. He was a real character and got away with things that most would never try.
John was always happy to pay, but he wanted to pay the right price. The only thing he wasn't happy to pay for was lemons. Lemons were something that really mattered to John. He used them almost daily. He couldn't stand it when they were expensive. One of his daughter's memories of her childhood was having drives of a weekend and going up into the bush and John sending his daughters into paddocks to steal bush lemons off trees that were near the roadside.
Apart from liking people and being a social being, he was someone who depended on others. People washed his car, washed his boat, peeled his prawns and cleaned his garfish.
He was a man of the people. He was equally at home with well-dressed people in suits and people with the backside out of their pants. He empathised with the common man and saw the good in most people. He was a fellow who himself had no airs and graces whatsoever.
John was an Apexian for eight or nine years, the foundation treasurer for Dundaloo for many years, president of the Taree branch of the Spastic Council, again for many years and a director on the Valley Industries board. These two roles evidenced John's deep love of children.
He was a mentor and counsellor in the Young Offenders Program run by the Department of Justice. He would give of his time on a weekend in a bid to turn young offenders around.
He arranged for the Man of the Match for the Sydney Rugby League Grand Final to come to Taree as his guest each year and John would take him to the various schools and the local hospital. He organised the Spastic Centre Ball each year in Taree and part of that, organised the Guest of Honour each year who was the then current Miss Australia.
He was the president of the Manning River VS Sailing Club for many years and became a life member of that organisation. Yarads were good and generous sponsors of local hockey, cricket, basketball, netball, football and surf lifesaving carnivals.
Feats of bravery
When Taree flooded there was a system of drains that ran under the streets which could be quite lethal. In one of these floods, John rescued a boy who had been washed into a flooded drain under a store known as 'Flynns'.
There was a yacht one night which was stranded some distance off Crowdy in heavy seas. Aboard it was a lone French sailor. John was asked by the police whether he could assist and, without thinking, he drove to Crowdy, got in his boat and went and found the stricken yacht. The seas, however, were too big for his boat to get too close to the yacht without damaging both vessels and creating further problems. What John did was to grab the rope, leap into the water in the dark and swim to the yacht, pass the rope to the French sailor who then tied it on to his boat. John then swam back to his boat, secured the tow rope and towed the stricken yacht back to Crowdy.
He single-handedly apprehended two escapees by citizen arrest, tackling them and holding them until the police arrived.
His daughters say their father could basically do anything, and they could never be annoyed with him for very long. He always had you with his smile and the twinkle in his eye. John was easily forgiven.
He was a man who was trusted implicitly. His daughters recount that on weekends when they were boating in Scotts Creek, they would ask him, "Are there any sharks here dad?" His response was "No, there's only bull sharks" and with that, he jumped into the water and his daughters followed him. They trusted everything he said and felt safe in his company and happy with his advice and decisions.
His daughters, and a great many other people in his life, relied on John for advice and counsel. He was open-minded, considered, and wise.
Family holidays weren't something that featured much in his life. Jo-Anne and Tracey remember one where they all got in the car, John and Rae in the front and Tracey and Jo in the back seat and away they went. They made it as far as the Big Pineapple. John decided overnight he didn't like it very much and the next day drove home again.
John was very proud of both of his girls. He was generous in all respects, except for direct praise. Interestingly John told most other people how fantastic his daughters were. He would talk about Jo-Anne's prowess in business, her good ideas, the size of the businesses she was running, the innovations she was putting in and he would beam as he told you. He would play some music that Tracey had recorded and play a video of her and demand silence while the video played. He loved what they did and admired them and that they had made successes of their lives. He also had a great affection for his two grandchildren, Ben and Ashleigh.
He loved food. He was one of the only people that ever took his own fish to Fish Fish Fish to his mate Peter Scarles who would cook it up for him knowing that this was 'classic Johnny'. His directions to the waitresses taking the order in relation to his grilled tomato which he had of a morning to 'cook it right up, burn it black'. He loved fresh white bread and cold butter. He loved oysters and always had a connection in the industry. He loved going out to dinner and he loved shouting the table, and when the dinner had come to an end whether it was at his home or at a restaurant, he left you in no doubt that the night was over, often saying in a good natured way "Go on, piss off".
He was a master of mischief, a scallywag and a rascal. He was relied on by many for advice and assistance. He changed the lives of many people for the better. He has left us with many fond and funny memories, and a wonderful, lasting legacy.
Significant women in John's life
John had three wonderful women in his life. Firstly his mother Angel, then his wife of 55 years Rae, and in the years since Rae's death, Lou. Each of these women loved John and he loved them. In John's case, there were three women who gave him support from the day he breathed his first breath to the day he breathed his last.