John Gonzales, a final year Parade College student of 1958, and the father of fellow Old Paradians Paul (1984) and Brendan (1986), has passed away peacefully at the age of 77.
John died on Wednesday (August 26), surrounded by his family, and in the hours that followed tributes came from those connected with both the Old Paradian and wider communities.
At Parade, John forged a solid friendship with Terence Booth – and it was through him that John gained an apprenticeship with the Booth family in the building trade.
Terence’s older brother John Booth, a formidable presence as player and coach through the Old Paradians’ A-section Premiership years, said that John was recognised as Victoria’s top apprentice – “and he was a fantastic tradesman”.
“Our connection came through Parade where John’s boys later went - and his daughter went to CLC with one of my daughters,” John Booth said.
“He was a terrific bloke. He was decent and very loyal.”
Beyond the Old Bluestone Pile, John maintained his Parade connections through the Old Paradians Football Club. Pat Mount recalled that John chased the leather for the Old Paradians Football Club, mainly at 2nd XVIII level, through its spectacularly successful ’60s era.
“Over the years I’d catch up with Terry at the various Old Paradians socials and he was usually in the company of Brendan Danaher or John Booth’s brother Terry,” Pat said.
John was a revered figure at the Heidelberg Golf Club from 1966 when he first became a member. Elected to the board in 1991, he served as club captain from 1995-’97 and returned as vice-captain for a one-year tenure in 2014.
As a capable golfer, he won the Senior C Grade Championship in 2003 and the Tom and Don Trophy with his friend Bruce Meikle in 2014.
The following tribute, posted on facebook by members of the club’s board, reflects the high esteem in which John was held.
Throughout his career at Heidelberg, John always displayed the highest level of integrity and honesty. Always available for advice and leadership, he had a well-earned reputation for reliability and wisdom,” the board’s tribute read.
He was highly respected, regarded and loved by all fellow members who knew him.
John will always be remembered for the many laughs and good times in the bar and on the course. He leaves many, many friends behind to celebrate his life, friendship, achievements and honours. In his final years particular mention must go to his old playing group … Bruce Meikle, Paul Lees and Alby Bolger. He will be sadly missed.
He was a man of the highest character and we were all honoured to have called him a friend at the Heidelberg Golf Club.
John made very significant contributions to the club in all forms of pennant and was instrumental in the planning and building of the current clubhouse. His name appears on the plaque at the front door.
John’s mother Nora was also a Life Member of the club.
Our condolences and best wishes go to Sue and the Gonzales family in this time of sadness. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
It is anticipated that a Celebration of Life will be held at the Club at a time when we are able to gather in numbers befitting our recognition of John Gonzales as an HGC man.
John Booth said that he last spoke to John over the telephone just a few days ago. He said that his old colleague had for some time battled asbestosis, a disease that afflicted him from those early days in the industry “when no-one knew what it was”.
John Gonzales was the much-loved husband of 55 years of Sue, loving father of Paul, Brendan and Jane and loving father-in-law of Amanda, Paul and Fran.
He was also “Pa” to William, Thanon, Claire, James, Ivy, Camilla, Sonny, Angus and Matilda.
Image – Heidelberg Golf Club