Generous, dedicated, compassionate, humble, family man.
These have been a few of the words used to describe Tamworth rugby league icon Jim Lupton.
Tributes have been numerous for the 84-year old, who passed away on Friday.
“He wasn’t perfect but was close to it,” son Anthony said.
Those sentiments were echoed by siblings Peter, Angela, Elizabeth and Kate, painting a picture of a man that loved his family and loved helping others.
“He was a hard-working honest man,” Angela said.
“There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for the community.”
Awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2010 for his service to rugby league and the Tamworth community, Lupton commented at the time that he had “been rewarded for work I enjoy doing”.
“He was very quiet,” Anthony said.
“He didn’t waste words.”
After moving to Tamworth in the 1950s to take up a job as an apprentice telephone technician with the Postmaster-General's Department (PMG), Lupton began a more than 50-year association with Tamworth and District Minor League when he took on the St Josephs under 8s in 1972.
In the following decades he helped nurture the footballing talents, and minds, of thousands of young players.
“He’s just influenced the lives of so many boys through his work at minor league,” Group 4 secretary Peter Blom said.
“He showed the boys not only how to play rugby league, but how to live as well.”
Lupton served in many and varied capacities on the minor league committee, including secretary/treasurer for more than 20 years.
Elizabeth quipped that if they couldn’t find him at home on a Saturday they knew where he’d be.
“He enjoyed footy and he wanted to keep it thriving,” Peter said.
“He wanted to give kids the opportunity to play.”
He also helped form the Collegians junior rugby league club in 1981.
For his dedicated service, Lupton was made a life member of the TDML in 1988 and awarded the prestigious Country Rugby League Merit Award in 2006.
But as big a part rugby league played in the life of Lupton, it was only part.
He was a volunteer firefighter for 40 years, a long-time blood donor, heavily involved in the church, a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for over a decade and a member of the St Vincent de Paul Society since 1953 up to his death.
Racing was another great love, and for over three decades he was the photo finish photographer for the North West area.
“Weddings had to be around the races,” Angela joked.
Blom first met Lupton in the 1990s.
“He was such a great man,” he said.
“One of the things that he used to look after was every year when it got close to the end of the season he’d organise to take a team photo of every team and gave the kids the photo of their team.”
He added that there was so much work he did at minor league that people didn’t know about.
“He wasn’t a bloke that went around telling everybody what he did,” he said.
Blom had a couple of stints at the TDML with Lupton and recalled how in his early days, former players would come up to him and say “Hi Jim, you won’t remember me” only to be left surprised when he did.
Lupton’s funeral will be held at 11am Thursday at St Patrick’s Church West Tamworth.
The news of Lupton’s passing drew a number of tributes on the Group 4 Facebook page. Here are some of them:
Greg Demery – R.I.P Jim. I had the pleasure of working with Jim through Minor league in Tamworth and Group 4. Jim was always so generous to these committees and the kids. Condolences to all Jim’s family. Tamworth Minor league and the kids who played the game are where they are now because of the time this man gave
Sean Handsaker – Sad sad news, Jim was an exceptional person who loved footy and the junior development of rugby league in Tamworth and surrounds. RIP Jim
Richard Spinks – I had the pleasure to work with Jim (Luppo) a gentleman and an Icon in minor league very sad
Tony Colgate – Such sad news, Tamworth minor league wouldn’t be what it is today without him. RIP you dear friend
Greg Sharman – Very sad worked tirelessly for many many years RIP Jim
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.