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A Life of Service Celebrated For Tasmanian Church Pioneer John Jury

The death of John Jury on 25 June 2019 in Hobart, Tasmania has left a void in the lives of many people, family, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of the broader community. John was the first Stake (diocese) President in Tasmania and leaves a legacy that will live on for decades.


John was born in Hobart, Tasmania, one of two sons of Ernest Athol Jury and Doreen May Jury (nee Cowburn). During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s missionaries were often welcome visitors at the Jury home in Glenorchy. In the early 1960’s the Church began the construction of what is now the Hobart Stake Centre, not far from where John lived. At this time, as a 19 year old he began to have the formal missionary discussions as he worked alongside many volunteer builders who were Church members. He describes his experience, “There was nothing like it for us non-members as we soaked up the spirit, felt the fellowship and became part of the great adventure of building an excellent structure with unskilled labour.”

John could identify some courses of bricks he laid in the building. How fitting that a building he helped build, worshipped and served in for more than 50 years was the venue for his funeral.

John was baptised on 24 November 1963. Thus began a life of service in the Church that continued until his passing. Approximately four years later he married his sweetheart Margaret Leitch who has always been a stalwart supporter for John and their five children.

John served in many different callings, including early morning seminary teacher, when seminary was introduced into Australia in 1970. John served as Branch President of the Glenorchy Branch from 27 July 1975 to 13 March 1977. He was then called as a Counsellor to Phillip G Mitchell, the district president, and served in that capacity until the creation of the Hobart Australia Stake on 14 September 1977.

The Stake was organised by Elder Mark E Petersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, consisting of 3 Wards in Southern Tasmania, one in Launceston and branches located at Devonport and Burnie. John Douglas Jury was called as the Stake President, with Ian Graeme Oates and Devon William Woolley as councillors.

Travel to units in Northern Tasmania was time consuming for leaders and challenging for all Church members. President Jury oversaw the use of telephone conference hook ups so that other leaders living in Northern Tasmania did not have to undertake journeys that ranged from 5 to 8 hours round trip travel time. He instituted a program of Stake overnighters where youth activities were held alternatively in the North and South to foster relations between the widely dispersed membership. Construction of the Devonport Chapel was completed while he was President and on 19 October 1980 Devonport branch became Devonport Ward.

Australian senior Church leader Elder Robert Dudfield reflected, "Those were some of the most memorable times of my youth. I will always be indebted to President Jury and his family for the love and open arms they extended to me as a youth in the Church".

On 16 November 1986, John D Jury, Ian G Oates and Stephen J. Woolley were released. (Stephen Woolley having replaced Devon Woolley on 7 March 1983). At that time John was the longest serving Stake President in Australia.

Ian, reflecting on his association with John remarked, “I served alongside John every week for 9 years, 2 months and 2 days,....the full term of his Presidency. In that time he taught me much about how to serve. I shall be ever grateful for what he taught me which has enriched my life, and flowed on to my family ever since.”

When John began his service as Stake President he had 3 children, when he finished there were 5.

John continued to serve in the Church and he (and Margaret) were called to serve in the Dublin Ireland Mission. John was Mission President of the Dublin Ireland mission 1995 – 1998.

He was called as Bishop of the Glenorchy ward serving from 1 July 2001 to 29 February 2004. John was serving as Stake Patriarch at the time of his death.

Current Stake President Phil Smith reflected, "John Jury is respected and most loved. He has been a great strength to the Hobart Stake, a true gentleman, a man of service, a man who lived his testimony, a man of God. He has been a great strength to the stake, a true gentleman, a man of service, a man who lived his testimony, a man of God."

John served in many demanding Church callings throughout his life, but he did not confine his help of others to the Church community. He was active in the community life of his local area, including being the President of the Rosetta High School Parents and Friends association, concurrent with his service as Stake President. Service as a member of the Boy Scouts Association executive and as the chair of the City of Glenorchy Centenary of Federation Committee. He was involved in supporting and organising grass roots sport, including Australian Rules Football and basketball. This includes being the founder and first president of the School Basketball Association. He was elected as an Alderman of the Glenorchy City Council, serving from 1993 – 1995.

John was always ready to help people, lend a listening ear and offer thoughtful advice. Above all, he was a loving husband, father and grandfather who is loved not only by his family but all those uncounted people he touched in and out of the Church. He will be remembered as an intelligent, compassionate man, full of integrity and a faithful servant of our Saviour until the end of his mortal life.

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