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Richard Wallace (Dick) Bond (1914–1976)

Since its founding in 1935 the Institute of Foresters of Australia has seen fit to bestow the title of Honorary Member upon only five persons, surely a mark of the high esteem in which those persons have been held within the profession. The death of Dick Bond on 6 July 1976 brought to a close the career of one of our two existing Honorary Members.

Richard Wallace Bond, who was born on 8th June, 1914, spent most of his early life in the Victorian country town of Wonthaggi. He commenced his professional life when he entered the Victorian School of Forestry at Creswick in 1932. He was already a keen botanist, and while still a student collaborated with the late Charles Barrett in authorship of a booklet, Victorian Ferns, which was published by the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria, and for many years remained the best guide to its subject. He graduated as dux of the school in 1934, thereby qualifying for the Associate Diploma in Forestry, and commenced duty as a forest cadet with the Forests Commission, Victoria. After several years in the field he was selected to undertake further training at Melbourne University, from which he graduated as B. Sc. in 1940. During his final year he married Joyce Lucas, with whom he had shared a deep understanding of the bush while both were stationed at Neerim South. He returned for a short time to district work but then moved to the Commission's Head Office as Assistant Sales and Marketing Officer, a position in which he was heavily involved in the timber salvage scheme which followed the disastrous Victorian bush fires of January 1939. In 1946 he moved further into the field of forest utilisation by joining the Division of Forest Products of the then Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, where he worked on timber preservation.

At about this time he also accepted the position of Editor of Australian Forestry, which was to be his greatest contribution to the Institute. He saw the journal through the press from volume 10 in 1946 to volume 27 in 1963, a period of tremendous development in the Australian forestry profession, and the Institute of its practitioners. Dick’s tireless efforts during that period laid a firm foundation for the present high standing of the journal. The award of Honorary Membership of the Institute at the close of the period was some recognition of his services.

Dick’s working career had meanwhile developed along lines parallel to his service to the Institute, and he had moved from the Division of Forest Products to the Publications Section in the Head Office of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, where he assisted in editing a wide range of C.S.I.R.O. publications. He also found time to return to his university, albeit in a different faculty, and in 1953 he took out the degree of B. Comm.

He continued with editorial work until late in 1954, when the wish to again work close to living things took him into the service of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority. He moved to Cooma as a Scientific Officer in an investigations group concerned with maintaining the stability of soils and plant associations in the area of the Authority’s operations and worked in that field with great satisfaction to himself and his organisation until failing eyesight forced his early retirement at the end of 1965. The wish to be with his family brought him back to live near Melbourne but he was still able, on occasions, to assist the S.M.H.E.A. in a consultant capacity in his special fields of soils and fire protection.

The onset of complete blindness was particularly galling to a man of Dick’s active disposition, but with characteristic energy and determination he set about learning to type and to read Braille to keep him in touch with his wide circle of interests. He was assisted in many ways at this time by the devotion of his wife, son and four daughters. A life membership awarded by the Field Naturalists’ Club of Victoria in 1969 is a measure of his success in keeping in touch.

For perhaps the last twelve months of his life Dick’s family had noticed a deterioration in his general health and he was not able to recover from an attack of influenza in July. His life and work enriched his profession and this Institute, and favourably affected the lives of a good many Australians who have never heard of him. Those of us who did know him extend our deepest sympathy to Joyce and their family.

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'Bond, Richard Wallace (Dick) (1914–1976)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

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