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Wallace, William Roy (1907–1981)

Roy Wallace, n.d.

Roy Wallace, n.d.

[William] Roy Wallace, a former Conservator of Forests in Western Australia, died peacefully in Perth on 23 April 1981.

Roy was born at Keswick in the Lake District of England in January 1907, and came to Western Australia with his parents in 1912. He undertook his secondary education at Perth Modern School, from 1920 to 1924, and it was during this period that he had his first contact with the then recently formed Forests Department. He obtained vacation employment in the pine nursery at Mundaring Weir near his parents’ new home.

After completing first-year Engineering at the University of Western Australia in 1925, he switched to Forestry and gained nomination to the Australian Forestry School as a member of the first student intake in 1927. He graduated from there in 1928 and joined the Forests Department of Western Australia in January 1929. He gave forty three years of distinguished service to the Department, culminating in eight years as Deputy Conservator and a final three years as Conservator of Forests. He retired in January 1972.

After a brief introductory period at Nannup, Roy Wallace was posted to Dwellingup in 1929 and was appointed A.D.F.O. of that Division in April 1930. He assumed control of the Division and was appointed Divisional Forest Officer in 1933. He remained at Dwellingup for a further twenty years before being transferred to the Department’s Head Office in Perth, in 1954. This period covered the latter end of the depression, the war and the immediate post-war years, when finance and staff were extremely limited, and he was called upon to administer and control much wider areas than the Division of which he was nominally in charge.

He not only covered these administrative duties very ably but at the same time pioneered the research work and the initiation in practice of a fire weather service, which was the first of its kind in Australia and remained in operation until the late sixties. The organisation, training and equipping of the first fire suppression gangs which formed a basis for the later, and even the present, highly regarded fire control organisation of the Department, was another of his significant achievements during that period.

In later years, after his transfer to Perth, Roy gave valuable years of experienced leadership and guidance at a time when the Forests Department’s operations, attitudes and commitments were being drastically broadened. Much of the material, which gave sorely needed improvement to the publicising of the Department’s activities, particularly in the realms of conservation of the forest environment, stemmed from him.

Roy also served the Institute of Foresters of Australia with great distinction and was elected a fellow in 1971. He assisted in its formation, was a foundation member, and at various times was a Chairman of the W.A. Division, proxy Councillor and a President.

He was also, for many years, an active Member of the Royal Society of Western Australia, serving for a period as a Councillor and then as President in 1968/69.

Even in retirement Roy never ceased to accept positions of responsibility in his main areas of relaxation. He became President, and was eventually honoured with Life Membership, of his bowling club and for several years he was a prominent breeder of budgerigars, winning many awards, and finally serving as a judge with the Caged Bird Society.

In passing, Roy has left behind him a lifetime of service to the State and a whole host of bereaved friends and colleagues, prominent amongst whom are the now ‘‘older’’ foresters of Western Australia, who benefited so greatly from his early counsel, guidance and friendship. He is survived by his wife, son and three grandchildren.

Original publication

  • Australian Forestry, vol 44, no 2, 1981, p 76

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Wallace, William Roy (1907–1981)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/wallace-william-roy-19014/text30617, accessed 25 November 2017.

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