THE STORYStretch was a bit of an enigma.
He was the one FW Barnes and Son had the least details about, but Ian Getsom knew as soon as he saw the name in a public notice that Stretch was his mate Johnny.
Now, Mr Getsom is going to help return Johnny home and give him some closure.
John Stretch died in a car accident between Scarsdale and Lintonin 1976 buthis ashes lay with about 80 uncollected, forgotten souls atFW Barnes and Son.
“I couldn’t let Stretch stay in Ballarat for the rest of forever. He deserved to be with his family,” Mr Getsom said.
“…he had a funeral and wake at the Church of England in Skipton so this will be another farewell. I can’t explain it –I’m just making sure he gets to where he needs to be.”
Mr Getsom has worked closely with FW Barnes and Son manager Simon Dwyer to bring John Stretch home to what was the family property, Naringal Station, where his parents are buried. It was the first place Mr Getsom rang when he saw the notice inThe Courier.
TRIBUTE: “We don’t know their stories, but we know their names,” says FW Barnes and Son director Simon Dwyer.
As custodians of the ashes, FW Barnes and Son could not release John Stretch to Mr Getsom but they can take him to the station with the blessing of family.
Mr Getsom had tracked down distant Stretch cousins in Albany, Perth in a path that led him back to a cousin in Ballarat.
In an interesting twist, it was on the phone to West n cousin Rosemary Cunningham, that Mr Getsom helped prompt closure for a second soul.
“Rosemary said to me, ‘Ian, you’ve just reminded me something –my husband’s in the cupboard’,” Mr Getsom said. “She had been planning to take him out to the family farm.”
FW Barnes and Sons is planning a memorial garden for unclaimed ashesin a discreet corner where people may pay their respects. It is a way to help create closure for their life stories.
“John was a fast man, he loved fast cars and was a member of the Ballarat Light Car Club …he was also a member of the Willowdale Fire Brigade, a champion tennis player and he was in the Lions’ Club at Cape Clear,” Mr Getsom said.
“He’s an all-round top bloke, a gentleman.”
THE BURIALVintage cars formed a cortège to take John Stretch home to Naringal on Wednesday. They embarked from FW Barnes and Son, in whose custody Mr Stretch’s ashes had layunclaimed for more than 40 years.
Mr Stretch had been one of 80 forgotten souls at the funeral home, until a public noticecaptured his friend Ian Getsom’s attention.
Working with FW Barnes and Son manager Simon Dwyer, Mr Getsom helped locate the extended Stretch family to take his friend Johnny home to what was the family station.
Killed in the 1970s, finally buried in 2017 TweetFacebookBallarat businessman Peter Stevens worked alongside John Stretch at Craig Brothers in Armstrong Street South, about where Central Square is now. Mr Stretch managed spare parts and Mr Stevens managed the workshop.
Mr Stevens was interstate when one of his friends rang to say there would be a procession and memorial service for Mr Stretch.
“I just thought, I’ve got to get back to be part of it,” Mr Stevens said. “John was a great guy and heavily involved in car club rallying.”
About a dozen cars made the journey from Ballarat to Naringal Station, near Cape Clear, where friends helped a memorial ceremony before spreading his ashes.
Mr Stretch died in a car crashbetween Scarsdale and Lintonin 1976, aged 49. His original funeral and wake werein Skipton.
Hailing from a large extended family, Mr Stretch had no direct descendants.
Cousin Bernie Ebbs, who spoke at the ceremony, said it was an important event for the wider Stretch family.
“John and I are distant cousins and although we didn’t know each other, in some ways we led parallel lives,” Mr Ebbs said in the service. “I spent school holidays with relatives at Wallinduc and developed a love for the land there. I think John lived and worked in the same district all her life.”
Mr Ebbs said their great grandfather was Reverend Theodore Carlos Benoni Stretch, who became Archdeacon of Ballarat and founded Geelong Grammar School. The Anglican Cathedral will host Archdeacon Stretch Sunday with a choral eucharist and lunch on Sunday, from 9.30am.