CommunityPeopleJack's achievements highlighted at 105th birthday

Jack’s achievements highlighted at 105th birthday

Jack Sulsters
Jack Sulsters celebrates his 105th birthday.

Local resident Jack Sulsters has accomplished many wonderful things during his life, including his latest achievement – turning 105 years old.

The former ship builder celebrated with family and friends on Friday with plenty of cake to be had and many stories, spanning more than a century, to be told.

Jack was born in the Netherlands, growing up during the depression, and is the eldest of six children.

In his younger years he was extremely creative, building his first sailing boat at about 17 years old.

He and his friends had sailing competitions during the day and dance parties on Saturday nights – some of Jack's fondest memories.

Later in life those skills were put to use as he enrolled in college to study carpentry.

His first job was at a cabinet making business before spending years working at the ship yards.

While Jack's early life in the Netherlands was filled with many happy moments, there were also times of uncertainty including when he made the journey walking towards the Dutch border during the war.

In an excerpt from a biography read out at his birthday celebration, Jack explained; “I spent months with others hiding from the Nazis, first in a ceiling loft, on an island in a cubby house and then in a cellar.

“It was very risky because if we were caught we would be sent to a concentration camp.”

When the war finally ended, Jack went back to work at the Netherlands Shipping Company as a ship's carpenter.

In 1947 he married his first wife Alida and they welcomed their three children Tony, Lydi and Arnold into the world.

Along with his brother and their families, Jack arrived in Sydney, Australia in 1961 and it was a few years later that he met his second wife, Henny.

They then moved to Bundaberg and settled into life.

Ship work follows Jack Sulsters to Bundaberg

Jack Sulsters
Jacobus (Jack) Sulsters with one of his model ships that he built of the Hospital Ship Oranje

His work in the ship yards and his unique skillset was something that Jack utilised in Australia.

“One of the ships I worked on in the Netherlands was called the Oranje,” he said.

“The Dutch Government lent the ship to the Australian government to convert it to a hospital ship in 1941.

“After reading a book by an Australian nurse about the ship and its work during the war I decided to build a model of the Oranje.”

Jack made three models; one was donated to the Bundaberg RSL, another to Orange RSL.

Jack has continued to remain active later in life, not only enjoying the construction of model ships.

He was still driving at nearly 100 years old as well as ballroom dancing.

For his 100th birthday he enjoyed a glider flight.

His son, Tony Sulsters, said Jack had achieved so much in his 105 years.

“So many things have happened over the period of his life, from the beginning of going to college where he did really quite well…,” he said.

“He keeps telling me, ‘in my days they used to give me a piece of wood and a plane…' and that's how he has grown up, doing things the hard way rather than today where it is a bit easier!”

Tony said his father had always been hardworking and eager to provide his family with a good life.

“He didn't come here to Australia with a pocket full of money, he had to work hard and he always did.”

Celebrating with his Dad and other family members, Tony said 105 years was a momentous birthday occasion.

“This is just incredible,” he said.

“People often say to me, well you must have these genes too, but I just don't know about that!”

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