Bob Jackson, pictured here with a group of cyclists at Coffs Harbour in 2004.
Bob Jackson, pictured here with a group of cyclists at Coffs Harbour in 2004. Daily Examiner

Cycling identity farewelled

THE sudden death last week of Grafton cycling identity Bob 'Jacko' Jackson is nothing short of a tragedy and the community is still reeling from the shock.

The 68-year-old great grandfather was killed on Friday after a collision with a car during his regular morning ride along the Summerland Way in Koolkhan.

His daughter, Rosemary, and son, Chris, yesterday told The Daily Examiner about their father's love of everything cycling, motorsport and, of course, family.

Bob was born, schooled and raised in Grafton, which was where he met and later married Margaret (nee Cox) in 1959.

The couple had four children, Susan, Judy, Rosemary and Chris, and went on to have eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Bob's wife Margaret described the couple's early romance at a local dance when she was 15:

“He was putting his Brylcreem on and he said to his mother 'I'm going to marry that girl' ... and he didn't even know who I was,” Margaret remembered.

Bob was well known in his later years for working the Australia Post parcel run with his son Chris, but he also did the South Grafton bread run out of Grafton's Queen Street Bakery for some years.

As well, he operated service stations in the area and worked as a cleaner at the Grafton City Bowling Club and the Grafton District Services Club.

Rosemary said her father retired just a few weeks before his death.

Bob's love of cycling began at the age of 14 when a mate asked him to join the Grafton Amateur Cycling Club.

“And he's been a member ever since,” Rosemary said.

She said he competed in 23 Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classics over the years ... 'and he never finished one'.

“He did all the hard work and got to the top of the hill but he never made it past the waterfall,” she said.

Rosemary said her father was a cycling mentor to many young riders in the area.

“Even after he'd stopped racing he'd be part of the support crew ... he was always there to help and watch the race.”

Chris said cycling had kept his father healthy and active.

“Doctors said that cycling had kept him alive because he had a murmur in his heart,” he said.

“They said 'keep doing what you're doing'.”

Rosemary said her father was a stickler for safety, pioneering the prominent use of reflectors and lighting on bikes, clothing and headgear.

“Our only consolation was that he died doing what he loved,” she said.

“He always said 'I don't want to go to hospital' ... that he wanted to die on his bike.”

Former Grafton to Inverell champion Kevin Brindle said he'd known Bob since childhood.

“He was quite an accomplished track rider as a juvenile,” Mr Brindle said.

“I'm sure he was club champion for a couple of years.”

Mr Brindle said Bob would always speak his mind if he didn't think the handicaps were right.

“But he was always helping people with bikes,” he said.

Mr Brindle said trawling garage sales for bikes or bike parts on a Saturday morning was one of Bob's favourite pastimes.

“He was a bit of a hoarder of bikes,” he said.

Chris said his dad was obsessed with watching the Tour de France.

“And it had to be the full live version,” he said.

But cycling was not Bob's only fascination. He also loved old Cooper S minis and Holdens and had acquired a new toy to restore just before he died.

“He owned about four or five minis over the years - they were stuck under the house at different stages of restoration,” Rosemary said.

A 19-year-old Grafton man has been charged with dangerous driving occasioning death and driving with mid-range PCA in connection with the collision.

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