Well known Whitby character dies aged 91

Jack in his younger years
Jack in his younger years
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A FORMER pub landlord and school caretaker who grew bananas in the school corridor has died aged 91.

John Samuel Sullivan, known as ‘Jack’ to the hundreds of Whitby people who knew him, was very much involved with life in the town.

A more recent picture of John 'Jack' Sullivan

A more recent picture of John 'Jack' Sullivan

He was born in Beverley and had a younger brother called Peter. The pair were brought up by their maternal grandmother after both parents died when they were young.

Much of his life was spent in Leeds where he moved as a teenager and joined the Territorials and in 1939 he joined the army - the 3rd Regiment Maritime Royal Artillery as a ‘gunner’ and served in the North Atlantic Convoys, the Mediterranean Convoys, and on Invasion craft.

During the war he met his first wife Ellen and they had two children, Michael and Patricia but unfortunately Michael died from cancer in 1998 with Jack at his side.

When the war ended Jack went back to Leeds working in the leather trade but in the evening worked at the Grand Theatre and often met many of the stars that were to pass through.

In 1967 Jack met his second wife Irene and became step father to her five children. It was there that he became the landlord of a pub but in 1969 he took over at the Black Swan in Whitby.

Jack and Irene threw themselves into the local community and when three of his step-daughters married Whitby men he would joke that he was related to half of Whitby.

After nearly eight years at the pub the couple moved to the Enfield Guest House in Church Square making friends with many of the guests that came from all over the world.

It was also at this time that Jack took on the caretaker’s role at West Cliff School and developed his green fingers.

He set up grape vines in the corridors and a banana plant cutting he brought back from Ibiza which actually produced bananas.

After retiring Jack and Irene moved to Guisborough Road and then Crescent Avenue where Irene died in 1996.

In 1997 Jack met Carole and they have had 14 years together.

Jack leaves his daughter Patricia, stepchildren Tony, Judith, Colin, Jennifer and Christine. Also numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren in this country and Canada.

A very keen gardener and always busy with some ‘project’ Jack was a member of Whitby Bowling Club, growing the gardens there from scratch and tending to them for many years until recent illness. Jack was an enthusiastic member of the Probus Club and the Whitby Naturalists Society with a great interest in plants and wildlife.

He and Carole encouraged birds, hedgehogs, bees, butterflies, and frogs into the garden they created together.

Carole said that while Jack enjoyed travelling all over the world visiting friends and family in Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia he loved Whitby and its people, and always said he would not wish to live anywhere else.