JOHN CHARLES SUTTON
(1935 - 2016)
John Charles Sutton was born on 31 December 1935 in Abergavenny, Wales, the son of William Albert, a solicitorís clerk, and Gladys, a teacher.† John had one sister, his beloved Molly, of whom he spoke often. †Johnís family used to go on picnics at the weekends on one of the many mountains surrounding Abergavenny - perhaps this is where John first gained his love of walking.† His other passion was rugby, and his dislikes through adult life were bureaucracy and the tax man, both with the same distain.
After leaving school John qualified as a Chartered Accountant. †In 1955, John obtained his first passport and with a group of friends travelled around Europe in an old London taxi.
From 1959 to 1961 he was in compulsory National Service, in the Parachute Regiment.† Afterwards he worked in Nigeria as a Chartered Accountant, from 1962 to 1964. †One day on his usual walk, a cobra reared its head just as he was stepping forward - he reckoned that step was the record for height and distance that day.
In 1964 he went to New Zealand and worked for the Forestry Commission where he completed a Surveyorís Assistant examination in 1968. †He lived for a while in Hokitika on the West coast of the South Island. †John always seemed to love cold weather as those of us who knew him in Canberra saw; wearing shorts throughout each winter. †He loved his New Zealand survey work being out in the open air, and when home played rugby.
In 1968, John moved to Australia and worked for the Department of Lands, New South Wales until mid-1969. †In 1970 he joined Smith More and Keown, hydrographic surveyors then involved in a Darwin Port Development. †One day he was working on a tide pole with someone who at his request put their foot on his head as a weight so he could concentrate better underwater when a sea snake swam between his legs. †In 1972 his employment took him to Indonesia where he caught his first dose of malaria.
In 1976 he completed another surveying examination and started at National Mapping at its then Queanbeyan office.† John was one of many who worked on the bathymetric mapping program onshore and offshore. †Nat Mapís bathymetric mapping program ran from 1971 until 1987.† Former Director of National Mapping Con Veenstra, remembers John from the bathymetric days as a quiet, gentle man who was a reliable and efficient member of the mapping team and who enjoyed the ship based work.
After volunteering in 1979, John was accepted by the Australian Antarctic Division and later completed an over winter stay at the Divisionís Casey Station in Antarctica.† While there one of his colleagues passed away from the effects of exposure and John was quite upset for some time afterwards.
John, always very careful with money, in 1980 purchased a house in Turner, ACT.† In 1990 he retired from Nat Map but continued to live in Turner until 2008. †He walked up to the top of Black Mountain every day, timing himself, and always cycled everywhere he could. †He never liked cars and every Saturday would do the shopping, including his favourite Guinness, load it all into his wheelbarrow and push it home.
In 1981, whilst in Wales he met Yvonne Russell, through his sister Molly, and after several visits each way they were married in August 1986.† In 2008 they decided to move to Queensland for a better climate and to be closer to Yvonneís daughter Kathryn and her friend Jean. †Their garden contained a pool which John used every day, and he continued his daily walks.
John always knew most of his motherís side of his family were prone to dementia.† About four years ago he started to be affected, mildly at first but after about two years he was admitted to hospital and then to a nursing home where he gradually became totally incapacitated.† John would have hated this move as he never liked being dependent on others. †On their last visit to John, Yvonne, Kathryn and Jean wheeled John around the grounds and Yvonne told him the tax man had sent him a refund.† John could not talk but he raised an eyebrow in recognition of this good news.† That night, Tuesday 13 September 2016, John passed away.† Yvonne hopes he is now free to walk his mountains again.
John was a great, and of great character - private and proud with a love for the bush, rugby, his family and Welsh background and the occasional Guinness.
John (far right) and friends, at the start of his winter stay at Casey Station, Antarctica.
Compiled by Ted Graham, October 2016, from notes by Johnís wife Yvonne.