Final moments of happiness: Family mourns Coast legend
IT WAS the perfect final day for town crier, loving father, cockney jokester and veteran John Stevenson.
The hinterland is mourning the iconic local figure, who delighted crowds at parades, ceremonies and countless other events, but his son Mike Stevenson said the 92-year-old's final hours were the happiest they could have hoped for.
After his doctor gave him just days to live last month, Mr Stevenson was devastated he would be too sick to participate in the Maleny Anzac Day service, as he had for the past 25 years.
But on Anzac Day morning, his family put him in a wheelchair, helped him put on his jacket and medals, and wheeled him down for a front seat at the Maleny Soldiers War Memorial Hospital service.
His extended family also gathered for the ceremony in the packed hospital foyer.
"He had the biggest smile you've ever seen," Mike said.
"He even tried to stand up for The Ode."
The service exhausted Mr Stevenson, but was the perfect send-off: just two hours later he lost consciousness for the last time and finally died five days later.
Most Maleny residents knew Mr Stevenson as the town crier, but Mike said his father was best described as a cockney who would always be laughing.
Mike said at 92 years old, Mr Stevenson was still pranking his doctor by insisting he "had sex nearly every day".
"Then he would say, 'I nearly had sex on Monday, I nearly had sex on Tuesday...'" Mike said.
Mr Stevenson was born in London, and served in World War II when he was 18 years old.
He was among the troops who landed at Normandy in 1945, and while he spent plenty of time behind enemy lines Mike said his father never spoke on the horrors of war.
"They thought they were going to die, so they drank and had fun," Mike said.
After the war, Mr Stevenson worked in flooring, and moved with his family to Australia about 1970.
His wife Betty died nine years ago, the blow almost enough to make him give up his mostly voluntary role as crier.
But it wasn't until last year when he finally hung up the bell for the last time, as the oldest crier in Australia.
Mr Stevenson's funeral will be held at 1pm, Friday May 11 at the Maleny RSL Memorial Hall, with members of the public welcome to attend.