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Arthur John Sorby Adams (1904–1969)

from Australian Forestry

Sorby Adams died in Hobart on 2nd May, 1969 as a result of injuries received when he was knocked down by a car on 14th April. He was 64.

Sorby Adams was an outstanding forester and an outstanding man. He achieved the distinction of becoming almost a legend in forestry in his own lifetime.

He was educated at St. Peter’s College, Adelaide, and at Adelaide University, where he obtained his B.Sc. in forestry under H. H. Corbin and N. W. Jolly.

Following graduation in 1926 he was employed by the Woods and Forests Department of South Australia until 1957, when he became Chief Forester for the Kauri Timber Co., and when that company’s forestry interests in South Australia were acquired by Softwood Holdings Ltd. he continued with them as Working Plans Officer.

During his work with the Woods and Forests Department he served in district work from 1927–55 and as the Department's first Regional Forester, centred at Mt. Gambier, from 1955 to 1957.

During 1968 he was invited to deliver a series of guest lectures in the western United States and to lecture at the two Government forestry schools in Chile.

In his community life he showed the same zest as characterized his professional life. He was a prominent member of Christ Church of England in Mt. Gambier, a past President of the Mt. Gambier Branch of the Liberal & Country League, and a past Snark of the Mt. Gambier Hoo Hoo Club. He also served as President of the Mt. Gambier Rostrum Club and as its Critic. His efforts as a member of various panels convened for radio and TV discussion in Mt. Gambier invariably contributed largely to successful sessions.

One of his most cherished objectives was the establishment of a regional organization capable of coping effectively with big district fires, and he worked unceasingly towards this through his association with both the Mt. Gambier Fire Fighting Association and the Lower South East Fire Fighting Association. He was a past President of the former, and President of the latter at the time of his death.

His interest in the Institute was deep and sustained. He was a Foundation Member, and the only Member whose signature appears upon the inaugural documents of both the old and the new Constitutions. He served as Chairman of the South Australian Division on several occasions.

A keen and critical observer, and a free thinker, he accumulated an almost unrivalled knowledge of Pinus radiata forestry. There was no aspect of Radiata Pine forestry or its associated industries in which he was not interestedly and informatively knowledgeable and could not discuss in depth; and it is indeed regrettable that in his furiously active life there was time only to set a little of this knowledge on the written record. Instead, his epitaph must be the forests that he planted and loved; and the knowledge and experience which he so freely handed down to his colleagues and associates of all levels.

Although disagree with him they might, and argue with him they did, there were none among those in or out of controversy with him who did not unreservedly like him.

His abiding sense of humour and effervescent personality were irresistible.

The sympathies of those of us in the Institute who knew him go to Mrs. Adams, herself now recovered from injuries received in the same accident, and to his two sons.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Adams, Arthur John Sorby (1904–1969)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 September, 1904
Mount Pleasant, South Australia, Australia


2 May, 1969 (aged 64)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

pedestrian accident

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations
Political Activism