by Matt Taylor
THE GLADSTONE Sailing Club will never be the same after the passing of the last of its founding members - and last inaugural life member.
John 'Jack' Mortensen, a passionate sailor, carpenter and serviceman died aged 92 in October.
He was in the third of five generations of his family to attend Gladstone Central State School, before undertaking a carpentry apprenticeship with Bill Golding at age 14.
He served with the RAAF during World War II and only worked for a handful of employers over his 50-year career.
Mr Mortensen loved sailing and especially the Port Curtis Sailing Club, which defined his contribution to the Gladstone community.
Returning from service in Papua New Guinea, Mr Mortensen began work on the 10-year project of building the Port Curtis Sailing Club.
"(Club founding members) decided we needed somewhere to congregate,” current club patron Barry Austin remembers.
"We were putting our boats up under the RSL club, and they used to wheel the boats down from there to the creek, go sailing, and then bring them back up.
"We just needed somewhere to call home.”
Mr Austin said Mr Mortensen not only shaped the club but the people in it.
So much so, the club is where Mr Mortensen also met his wife.
"She was from Gympie and she attended the Lake Cootharaba Sailing Club, and that's how they met,” Mr Austin said.
"His wife Letty said to me recently, they were so late getting married because Jack had to finish the clubhouse first.
"A lot of our members met their partners here because we had a ladies auxiliary who helped to build the clubhouse.
"(Mr Mortensen) was a director and he'd direct you to go and do this and that, and everyone just did it.
"Everyone respected him.”
Mr Austin reflected on Mr Mortensen as a competitive man who loved sailing.
"I know of times when we've had regattas here and someone has broken a boom or a spinnaker pole and he'd go home at night and make a new one,” he said.
"It didn't matter if they came from out-of-town or if they were townies, he'd go and just help them out.”
Mr Austin acknowledged Mr Mortensen as someone who had a profound effect on his life growing up.
"As a young member, he just took all of us young fellows under his wing, kept us out of trouble and taught us how to sail,” he said.
"He taught me an awful lot as a young fellow growing up because we didn't have much else to do around the place.
"I'd just like to say a big thank you to him, for being a second father, and an honest man.”