John “Joe” Joseph Weekes was born on December 3, 1937 in Esk, Queensland. The son of a blacksmith, he spent the first few years of his life living in a tent while his father worked on the construction of Somerset dam.
They moved back to Bowning, his father’s hometown in 1940 and took residence in a mud Slab hut with a dirt floor, no running water, no electricity and a number of birds.
When his father passed away, Joe was 12 at the time, and became the man and provider of the house. He left school at the age of 14. One of his first jobs was as a tyre fitter working in Yass, which required him to ride his single speed pushbike nine miles to and from work each day along the Hume Highway. Unbeknown to Dad at the time, the tyre industry would play a major part in his future life.
Playing for the Yass Magpies in what was then known as Group 8, Dad played in four premiership winning sides in first and reserve grades. One of his proudest Rugby League moments came many years later during a dinner honouring Don Furner, who he played against in the 1950’s. When Don was asked who the hardest tackler he ever played against, he stunned the room and said, “A bloke you have never heard of by the name of Joe Weekes from Yass, when he hit you, you stayed hit”.
Having met Toni and marrying her in 1960, they moved to Goulburn in 1962 where he worked for the Dunlop Tyre Company on Verner St and later a manager at Firestone Tyre Company. In the mid 70’s Firestone closed their operations Australia wide and offered their managers the opportunity to buy the store. Dad approached his old friend and Dunlop work colleague, Mick Brown, and Mick and Joe’s Discount Tyres was born.
A great contributor to Mick and Joe’s success was his legendary customer service. A great example of this was when a family traveling from Victoria to Qld stopped to have a puncture fixed. When Dad spoke to the driver he said, “I rang a mate of mine in Melbourne to ask him if he knew of anyone that could fix my flat, he said that I had to drive to Goulburn and not to see anyone but Joe Weekes at Mick and Joe’s” – and this didn’t just happen once.
He loved people and loved having a chat. He seemed to know every second person in Goulburn and greeted anyone he met like they were his best friend. Dad was also a very generous person, helping so many people but never making a big deal of it.
It’s hard not to admire a man who had come from nothing and armed with little more than a fighting spirit could build a successful business and life, with the enormous respect from his family, friends and the community.