John Stokes: floral shirt send-off fit for ABC legend
A SEA of floral shirts, mates sharing stories, laughter, music and tears.
It was the send-off John Stokes scripted himself - and his family and friends ensured it was delivered down to the final song.
The popular and passionate Sunshine Coast ABC breakfast announcer, who experienced more in his 55 plus years than many live in 80, was bid farewell by hundreds at the Coolum Civic Centre today.
Stokesy took centre stage even in death with his life story being told through a moving interview with his daughter Jasmine.
From the outset, it was clear this was his last production with his memorial featuring strict instructions that the opening Van Morrison tune be played right until the end.
There were similar instructions for Bruce Springsteen's New York City Serenade, including that it be played loud.
Surfboards, paintings of the sea, a photo of John and his wife Jenny, and his beloved ukulele took centre stage and friends remembered the 'loving legacy' of a man who was passionate about his community, local issues, and genuinely interested in anyone who had a story to tell.
During almost 30 years with the ABC, both on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, John did about 40,000 interviews, from major breaking news stories to talking with cane toad racers and scone makers.
"Stokesy was the whole sushi train experience... Nothing got passed him,'' friend Ricky Smith told the crowd.
"He was like a walking encyclopedia who also happened to love the stories he told.''
"Stokesy was a man of the ocean, the wind, the waves.''
Ross, a long time friend from New Zealand, remembered their early days growing a hilarious variety of beards and moustaches, loud music and parties.
He told how Stokesy, after joining a neighbourhood streak with friends, ended up in a woman's dress as he scrambled to put clothes back on as the police arrived.
"We were very sophisticated as teenagers, we thought.
"We drank wine... out of a box.''
Ross said John was passionate about people and animals and "would remember the oddest bits of information.''
"Who else would try to interview a dolphin,'' he asked.
"All we know is he is gone and all we wish he could have stayed.''
He recalled how they had spent time together on Rainbow Beach in December where John reflected back on his 'perfect life'.
Stokesy "would do everything the same except for the bloody lymphoma".
The radio personality was given a standing ovation as his coffin was carried out to the tune of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.
It was Stokesy to the end.