Wally Sneddon was loved and respected, and will be much missed.
Born in Cessnock NSW in 1926 to Scottish immigrant parents, his father, Walter was a coalminer, who returned from the First World War and moved to Taree as manager of the local dairy co-operative.
At an early age, Wally became interested in music, and became a child prodigy, playing classical music on the grand piano. After finishing school in Taree, Wally was accepted into the conservatory of music at Sydney University, where he completed a teaching degree.
“Music was always part of Dad’s life, and he led cabaret bands in venues on the Mid North Coast right up until he and mum, Fae moved to the Sunshine coast some 12 years ago,” recalls his son, Bruce.
Wally finished his teaching degree in Sydney and was posted to a one-teacher school in Jackadgery near Grafton. He caught rides on timber jinker trucks passing through town, to attend rugby league training and play games with the Grafton first grade side in the late 1940's.
It was from Grafton where he was scouted by the mighty South Sydney Rabbitohs, who arranged a teaching transfer to Sydney where Wally was part of the 1950 premiership winning squad coached by Jack Rayner and included players such as immortal Clive Churchill.
A bad knee injury during that 1950 season resulted in Wally returning Taree in 1951 where he captain coached Taree Browns Creek,Taree Old Bar. The knee injury forced him into early retirement from playing Rugby League, so he became a referee for Group 3, and went on to referee city-country matches at the Sydney cricket ground, and matches between the touring British rugby league side and the Newcastle Coalfield and Northern Rivers Rep sides.
In 1953, he married Fae, a local Taree girl, and they moved to Wauchope to build a house and start a family. He had a shoe store in Cameron Street, then returned to teaching, at the newly-opened Port Macquarie High school in the early 1960's.
Wally was deeply involved in the Hastings and Manning communities, and was foundation president and first life member of Wauchope Bonny Hills Surf Life Saving Club, president of Rotary, president of Wauchope Golf Club and veterans, coach and selector for Wauchope Blues Rugby League club.
“He was loved and respected and made a positive difference in people’s lives. Well lived, Dad,” said his son, Bruce.
A celebration of Wally Sneddon's life will be held at the Wauchope Bonny Hills Surf Club on Ocean Drive on Saturday February 24 from 1pm. All welcome.