Joseph Modro: RIP

There will be a memorial service for Joe at St Anne’s Church, 4 Brighton Road, Banstead on Wednesday 15th Feb at 11.30 am.

Ray McLennan, who played with Joe in the 60s team, writes:

Many members will be saddened to hear of the recent death of Joe Modro, who was a player, long time member and supporter of both our Amateur and professional clubs.

When Joe arrived in the UK in 1942, he had spent 3 years escaping from his home in Poland with his mother and sister. He travelled via many European countries, Algeria, Tangiers in north Africa, Seville in Spain and finally a flight from Lisbon, Portugal into the UK. He was educated St Martin’s Prep. School, Northwood, Mayfield College in Sussex, where he first started playing rugby. He was captain of the cadets and school captain at Mayfield. He also attended Clapham College, London.

After school, Joe played for Blackheath Rugby Club. While he did get a game for the 1st team he was a regular prop for the 2nd team.

Joe gained entry into Imperial College, London to study Civil engineering at the age of 18 in 1952 and graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering in 1957. I am advised that the 5year study period and the fact that he was the founder member of the University Wine Tasting Society, were not in any way connected!  Joe was to gain University rugby colours while at Imperial.

Joe obtained his first “real job” with the Civil Engineering Consultants Sir Bruce White Wolfe and Barry Partners who posted Joe to N Ireland as an Assistant Resident Engineer in Lisburn. Still keen to keep playing rugby, Joe joined NIRFC (North Rugby Club) in Belfast. Joe was always proud to mention that on one occasion, he was playing on the same team as Jack Kyle (the famous Irish International Out Half) – although at that stage it was not for the firsts!

Upon return to London in 1960, Joe joined LIRFC and gravitated to the extra B’s run by George Morrison. The team, a bunch of hardened experienced players with a sprinkling of youth, consisting of many nationalities that reflected the make-up of LI at the time. We always appeared to play our games away for in those days as LI had only 3 pitches at Sunbury and had 10 teams to accommodate!

Nevertheless, a great bond of friendship developed among the players, helped no doubt by the many hours in trains and buses and the beers consumed after the games. Joe was a skilful prop (and a fully paid up member of the Front Row Union.) and as in today’s modern rugby-if you don’t have good props on your team-you don’t win!

Joe did manage to stop playing rugby for a few days to marry Maisie in March 1961, who he had first met in NI in the 1959-1960 period.

Joe went on to have a successful career at MJ Gleeson and at Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd in the UK civil engineering industry, based at their London Head Office – as Chief Engineer.

He was keen to support both the professional team at Reading and in later years the Wild Geese from Sunbury and then Hazelwood. Always keen to have a jar at the club and sit down for a nice meal with friends and relive the good old days!

In May 2016 Joe had major surgery at the Royal Marsden Hospital, which was successful and he made a good recovery. He went into Georges Hospital, London to be assed for a heart pacemaker on 8th November 2016. During this time he developed influenza followed by pneumonia. Joe sadly passed away on Tuesday 2nd February 2017, aged 82. During this period Maisie has been constantly at his bed side, providing, not just loving care-but her extensive nursing knowledge and physio support.

In this professional era, we should never forget the influence made by stalwarts, like Joe, in our amateur club!

Many thanks Joe for your fine contribution