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Jack Simonian: The eulogy by Jeremy Sirley





Eulogy delivered by Jeremy Sirley at the funeral of Jack Simonian January 3, 2020

GOOD AFTERNOON & WELCOME FAMILY AND FRIENDS, OR AS JACK WOULD SAY ‘KARIBU’ - SWAHILI FOR WELCOME ALL.
IT IS MY PRIVILEGE TO TALK ABOUT JACK...
I MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT SIX YEARS OLD WHEN I FIRST MET JACK
AT THE MOTORCYCLE RACES IN HIS RACING LEATHERS IN KENYA, MY FIRST IMPRESSION WAS ‘THAT'S SUPERMAN A REAL LIFE SUPERMAN I WANT TO BE LIKE HIM!’
JACK WAS BORN IN THE SUDAN, THE SON OF ARMENIAN PARENTS - HIS FATHER AN ENGINEER, HIS MOTHER A SEAMSTRESS WHO WERE FORCED TO FLEE PERSECUTION IN THE 1930'S AND FLED OVERLAND AND BY SHIP TO EGYPT BEFORE MOVING ON THROUGH THE SUDAN AND ON TO KENYA WHERE JACK AND HIS 2 ELDER BROTHERS GREW UP.
JACK WAS A TRUE GENTLEMAN, GENEROUS, HUMBLE , A LITTLE ECCENTRIC AT TIMES AND ALWAYS AUTHENTIC. I DON'T KNOW WHERE HE FOUND THE AMOUNT OF PATIENCE HE HAD, IN ANY SITUATION I HAVE NEVER EVER HEARD HIM RAISE HIS VOICE! JUST RECENTLY I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER THE WORDS HE SAID TO ME AFTER I HAD BEEN A LITTLE IMPATIENT WITH HIM WHICH I REGRET! HE SAID ‘POLE POLE KIJANA’ - IT MEANS SLOW DOWN YOUNG MAN! I GOT THE MESSAGE AND INSTANTLY APOLOGISED FOR MY BEHAVIOUR.
JACK HAD THIS REMARKABLE ABILITY TO LISTEN AND WHEN ASKED WOULD OFFER SOUND LEVEL HEADED ADVICE AND SOLUTIONS TO PEOPLE IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS OR CIRCUMSTANCES.
HE WAS VERY HIGHLY RESPECTED SO MUCH SO HIS SIKH BROTHERS WHOM HE PLAYED HOCKEY WITH REFERRED TO HIM AS ‘JACK SINGH’ ONE OF THEM- AN HONOUR HE HELD CLOSE TO HIS HEART.
JACK WAS A UNIQUELY TALENTED TRUE SPORTSMAN, SO MUCH OF A SPORTSMAN THAT DURING NUMEROUS COMPETITIONS HE WOULD OFTEN STOP DURING THE RACE OR RALLY TO ASSIST HIS FELLOW COMPETITORS, OFTEN ALLOWING HIS RIVAL TO WIN THE COMPETITION. ONE EXAMPLE IN 1969 AT THE KENYA MOTORCYCLE CHAMPIONSHIP, WAS WHEN MIKE
KIRKLAND, A GOOD FRIEND AND FELLOW SPORTSMAN AND JACK LINED UP ON THE GRID FOR THE FINAL DECIDING RACE. WHEN MIKE NOTICED HIS OWN CHAIN HAD A PROBLEM ON HIS MOTORBIKE HE KNEW HE WOULD BE UNABLE TO START. HE PULLED OFF THE TRACK TO ALLOW THE RACE TO START, AND JACK PULLED OFF AS WELL! JACK FIXED MIKES BIKE FOR HIM THAT ALLOWED MIKE TO WIN THE RACE AND HIS ONLY KENYAN BIKE CHAMPIONSHIP.
IN THE MOTORSPORT WORLD HE WAS A MULTIPLE EAST AFRICAN & KENYAN MOTOR SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR WINNER WHERE HE EXCELLED BOTH ON MOTORCYCLES AND IN CARS ON AND OFF THE ROAD
HE WAS A WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP DRIVER FOR THE FORD LANCIA ALFA & NISSAN TEAMS & HIS MECHANICAL ENGINEERING ABILITIES TO DEVELOP AND IMPROVE THE MOTORCYCLE OR CARS DURABILITY AND PERFORMANCE were LEGENDARY. HE SPENT MANY YEARS DEVELOPING CARS FOR THE TEAMS PARTICIPATING IN THE EAST AFRICAN SAFARI RALLY
IF YOU HAD A MECHANICAL PROBLEM WITH ANY VEHICLE ASK JACK HE WOULD FIX IT AND AT THE SAME TIME MODIFY IT SO IT NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN!
HIS UNBELIEVABLE SPORTING TALENT WAS ALSO DISPLAYED ON THE HOCKEY FIELD BY HIS PARTICIPATION IN THREE OLYMPIC GAMES AS A HOCKEY GOALKEEPER IN ROME, MEXICO AND TOKYO, WINNING THE BEST GOALKEEPER OF THE TOURNAMENT IN THE 1968 MEXICO OLYMPICS.
SO HUMBLE WAS THE MAN THAT I ONLY FULLY UNDERSTOOD BY READING THE NUMEROUS LETTERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND NEWSPAPER ARTICLES AFTER HIS PASSING THE ENORMITY OF HIS SPORTS ACHIEVEMENTS.
JACK ALSO SERVED IN THE KENYA REGIMENT ARMY IN THE SPECIAL INVESTIGATION BRANCH DURING KENYA'S EMERGENCY PRE INDEPENDENCE PERIOD WHERE HE WAS THEIR TOP MARKSMAN & WAS OFTEN CALLED UP TO SERVE AS THE FIRING MARKSMAN ON THE LIVE TRAINING EXERCISES!
MY QUESTION IS HOW DOES A MAN ACHIEVE WHAT HE DID IN A LIFETIME? I STILL HAVENT FOUND THE ANSWER!
I HAVE A LITTLE SECRET JACK KEPT THAT I ONLY LEARNT OF VERY RECENTLY- SOMETHING NOT EVEN MY FATHER, WHO KNEW JACK FOR OVER SEVENTY YEARS KNEW, JACKS REAL NAME WAS JOHN - JACK WAS HIS OLDER BROTHERS NAME!
ONE OF JACK’S GREATEST PASSIONS WAS IN THE KITCHEN AND HE COULD JUST ABOUT RUSTLE UP ANYTHING AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE - MANY OF YOU HERE MAY HAVE BEEN GRACED WITH ONE OF HIS FAMOUS CURRIES OR LATELY HIS DELICIOUS FRUIT CAKES! ONE WOULD NEVER GO HUNGRY IN JACK’S COMPANY!
JO PIP MARK & SUZY YOU MUST BE SO PROUD, AND I WILL ALSO ALWAYS CHERISH THE MEMORIES OF YOUR BEAUTIFUL MOTHER PAULINE WHO JACK MARRIED IN NAIROBI IN 1961. I KNOW THEY ARE BACK TOGETHER AGAIN, TWO HEARTS THAT COULD NEVER BE SEPARATED.
ABOVE AND BEYOND ALL JACK’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS WAS HIS FAITH. IT IS WHAT DROVE HIS EVERY MOVE AND WAS HIS COMPASS IN LIFE. JACK COULD BE FOUND IN CHURCH EVERY SUNDAY CLUTCHING HIS PRAYER BOOK AND SINGING HYMNS, ALWAYS READY TO LEND A HELPING HAND AND OFFER A WELCOMING HANDSHAKE TO ALL HE MET.
JACK WAS A LONG WAY FROM HOME WHEN HE DIED PEACEFULLY IN HIS SLEEP BUT AUSTRALIA AND HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS MADE HIM HAPPY. HE WOULD PACK HIS BAGS DAYS BEFORE HIS ANNUAL TRIP AND WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK ALL THE NEIGHBOURS AND FRIENDS HERE FOR THEIR HELP, LOVE AND SUPPORT.
WE WISH HIM A RESTING PLACE FULL OF LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP. THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS.
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN


1 comment:

  1. Jack was truly a gentleman and a sportsman and was one of my role models although we had never met. Dr Malachy De Souza M.D.

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