Born – 5 August 1946

Passed Away – 27 March 2020

Vale Graeme James

Graeme James aka “The Zom” Knox passed peacefully on 27 May 2020 after a tragically short battle with cancer. The saying goes “a Legend is defined as someone who has become well known/famous as a result of distinctive or unique characteristic or skill they possess.“ Well on the 5 August 1946 at The Mater Hospital Crows Nest, a future Legend was born with the birth of Graeme. He grew up with his parents Joyce and Harry plus his brother David in Harbord.

The Zom was a naturally gifted sportsman and along with his brother David at early ages became involved in playing for the local Manly Warringah Junior Rugby League Clubs and naturally surf life-saving activities through the Freshwater Surf Club, where their Dad was a prominent Member. Over the years he played rugby league for a few local Junior League Clubs including Harbord United, Valley United (a tireless Official after his playing days), North Curl Curl, Erina Eagles Central Coast. On the representative team front he played for Manly Warringah Jersey Flegg, where he captained for 2 years then played in the President Cup as captain for 2 years before being graded with the Manly Warringah District Rugby League Club prior to transferring to the North Sydney District Rugby League Club. Believe it or not Zom was a qualified Referee and refereed many local junior rugby league matches (all grades).

Graeme was a highly regarded and successful Member of Surf Clubs at Freshwater, South Curl Curl, Manly and North Narrabeen. His reputation grew as he became a Giant in the Sport of Surfboard Rowing both in Australia and abroad. He devoted his life to advancing Surf Life Saving activities, especially surf boat racing to the high esteem it is held in today. In 1974 and 1984 he managed tours of surf life savers to Wales and England and in 1984 he received a Letter of Appreciation for his efforts from Prince Charles, Patron of Welsh Surf Life Saving. From 1987 – 2003 he wrote a popular weekly column in The Manly Daily newspaper on local surfing “Between the Flags.”

In his lifetime Graeme was justly awarded many honours which included Life Membership of the Manly Warringah Junior Rugby League Club, Valley United Junior Rugby League Club, Surf Life Saving Sydney Northern Beaches and The Australian Surf Boat Rowers League. Other Awards include 1998 Outstanding Community Service Award for Media Service, 2007 NSW Rowers League Hall of Fame Award and in 2019 SLSA 50 Years’ Service Award.

In 1968 he married his lovely wife Jennifer and they have three children – Vanessa, Simone and Nathan. Upon retiring from the PMG/Telstra after 32 years, he completed a Certificate of Culinary Excellence plus a Hotel Management Certificate which he put to good use. At one time he was a part owner of a Hotel in Wagga Wagga but after a time he and his partner sold it. Another time Jennifer and he operated the popular Kiosk at South Curl Curl Beach, where he made the best hamburgers in Australia and customers would go there from miles around.

For those of us who never had the pleasure to meet Zom, we feel somewhat cheated by not having that pleasure but are pleased for those persons who knew him and had the pleasure of his company. The Men of League Foundation extend their heartfelt condolences to Jennifer, Vanessa, Simone, Nathan, his brother David, all Members of the Family and the countless persons who had the pleasure to know Zom.

A private Funeral Service will be held; a Memorial and Celebration of Zom’s Extraordinary Life will be held in the future after current COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.


by Ken Vessey

Wellbeing Coordinator Northern Sydney Men of League

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