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Gentleman farmer: The late Jack Allan

By PHILIP CHANDLER

Queenstowner Jack Allan, who died last week, aged 93, is being remembered as ‘‘a true son and gentleman of the Wakatipu’’.

He’s part of a family who’ve been in the district for six generations, dating back to the 1860s Central Otago gold rushes.

Jack took over his family’s Lower Shotover farm, Cloverdale, and famously was the Basin’s last dairy farmer.

He’s survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan, children Karen, Suzy and Craig, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Born at Cloverdale, he was educated at the former Lower Shotover School, which he
journeyed to on horseback with his sisters, then at the former Queenstown District
High School.

As there wasn’t a school bus, he boarded during the week at the top of Stanley Street.

He recalled hearing from a teacher about the bombing of Pearl Harbour, which brought the United States into World War II.

In his eulogy, daughter Suzy’s husband, Bruce Walker, said his farming life ‘‘started with horses for ploughing, cultivation and harvesting’’, before going on to tractors and mechanisation.

‘‘Milk in cans from the dairy on the farm was carted by dray to the cheese factory on
Speargrass Flat Road (currently Thomas Brown Gallery).

‘‘Grain and small seeds were sent to the Frankton Wharf to be taken south by the Earnslaw [steamer] for sale or cleaning.’’

After a new Chevy truck was bought in 1937, those tasks were made easier, Walker
said.

It also delivered raw milk to Queenstown households in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s.

That continued till the milk then had to be processed first in Alexandra.

Jack played for the Country rugby side whose field was at the highway end of Hansen Road.

He married Joan, a dental nurse student who used to visit the farm with his sister/fellow student Margaret, in 1956, in the former Presbyterian Church at the top of The Mall.

In 2016, Joan told Mountain Scene ‘‘our brother-in-law had the only taxi service in town and when we came out of the church, he’d jacked up an old 1918 Buick with rude signs all over it’’.

‘‘So we climbed into that and did the grand tour down The Mall [then Ballarat St].

‘‘I felt like the Queen waving to everyone.’’

After the farm’s cows were sold in the late ‘70s, sheep were introduced then, later, deer.

Jack and Joan retired to a property over the road in the late ‘80s.

Jack, who took up indoor and outdoor bowls, then drove an Arrowtown School bus for many years, and for Suzy’s Arrow Express bus service.

‘‘He loved his John Deere ride-on mower, and it became his means of transport — the
farmer’s version of a mobility service,’’ Walker said.

After Saturday’s service at the Lake Hayes Pavilion, the old Chevy, with his casket
onboard, did a lap of the showgrounds.

Walker says Jack was ‘‘a very humble gentleman and very caring for both the family and also animals’’.

scoop@scene.co.nz