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William John Code (1861–1940)

The recent death of Cr. W. J. [William John] Code removed from Heathcote one who was prominent in the public life of Victoria for many years, one who took a keen interest in local activities during the latter years of his life and one who was highly respected for his integrity of purpose and honesty of action.

Cr. Code was born at Bendigo, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Code, of Longlea. He was 79 years of age at the time of his death. He entered the employ of the Victorian Forests Commission and after years of faithful service—many of which were spent in the Heathcote district as Forester—he received promotion and ultimately recognition of his executive ability and knowledge of silviculture resulted in his appointment to the Chairmanship of the Commission. He occupied this important position with distinction from 1924 to 1927, and when he reached the retiring age he had had 40 years’ successful service in connection with State forests. He gained a proficient knowledge of trees and the areas in which they grew, and he was ever a staunch advocate of the value of forestry to the country. As Chairman of the Commission he occupied an important post, which enabled him to bring to fruition many ideas of his own on the preservation of growing timber. He had a fund of information on his subject and many thrilling incidents could he recount of bush fires and forest life. He was thought highly of by Parliamentarians and officers connected with the Public Service.

When he retired he returned to Heathcote to live, and devoted himself to agricultural pursuits, having become a large landholder in the district. He took an interest in municipal affairs, and so keen was he on public life that although he was reaching an age when most men desired well-earned rest, he allowed himself to be persuaded to accept Council honours and he became a representative for the Central Riding. He proved a good Councillor, looking after the interests of the municipality and of Heathcote in particular in an enthusiastic manner. His experience of local forests was often of definite value to the Council and his advice was always received with gratitude. He occupied the Presidential chair this year, when despite his advanced years and failing health he exhibited commendable courage, his only worry being that his health would not allow him to do the position justice. Until he was confined to his room some months ago, he brought to the position quiet dignity and by his public receptions brought Shire affairs before the notice of many important visitors.

He became a member of the Heathcote Waterworks Trust, and he gave valuable service to the town in this connection also. It was but natural with his interest in pastoral matters that he should become actively connected with the Heathcote Agricultural and Pastoral Society, and as a member of the committee of management and President he rendered particularly able service to this cause. He was ever ready to advance the interests of the primary producer and was a member of various district deputations that received Ministers here or waited upon them in Melbourne.

The late Cr. Code, in his earlier connection with the town, was interested also in other bodies and institutions. He was a Freemason for over fifty years, having joined the Golden and Corinthian Lodge at Bendigo and later transferred to the Prince Alfred Lodge in the metropolis.

He was twice married, first to Miss Eva Jane Crowle, and there were three children of the marriage: Lilian (Mrs. J. W. Hall, now of Orbost), Frederick (now in Puckapunyal A.I.F. Camp), and James (Melbourne). With the death of his wife he later married Miss Edith Josephine Hall, who also predeceased him. Of this marriage there was one daughter: Edith Josephine (Mrs. Bert Kemp).

He is also survived by three brothers: Frederick George (Mt. Camel), Robert and Benjamin, and two sisters (Misses Minnie and Alice Code). To the children and relatives deep sympathy is expressed in their bereavement.

The funeral to the Heathcote Cemetery on Wednesday, 14th August, was attended by representatives of State Departments, local public bodies and a large number of personal friends of [the] deceased.

The coffin-bearers were members of the Heathcote Masonic Lodge: Wor. Bros. J. S. Hayes (Worshipful Master), L. W. Hagan, A. C. D. Thomas, and Bros. W. McRobert, W. A. Lewis and T. Dickinson.

The pall-bearers were Mr. E. A. Coyle, M.L.A., Mr. L. B. Butler (representing, the Country Roads Board), Mr. W. Gay (representing the Forest Commission), Crs. D. R. Thomas and J. O’Sullivan (representing the McIvor Shire Council), Cr. J. A. Rainey and Mr. W. G. Story (President and Secretary of the Heathcote Agricultural Society), Mr. Alfred Lewis (Chairman of the Heathcote Waterworks Trust), and Mr. A. C. D. Thomas (representing the rate-payers of the Shire).

Rev. D. M. Wallace, of St. John’s Church of England, Heathcote, conducted the service at the graveside, the Masonic service being read by Wor Bro. Robert Kilroy.

Messrs. Perry Bros., of Heathcote, had charge of the funeral arrangements.

References to Cr. Code’s death were passed at last Wednesday’s meeting of the Pyalong Shire Council, when it was decided to express to the relatives the deep sympathy of the members. Cr. Joseph Cooke referred to Cr. Code’s many public offices and his long connection with the Health Group. Cr. W. J. Hayes said Cr. Code had been a good public man. He had been a member of the Agricultural Society and was President of the Shire of McIvor. His death was very much regretted.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • tribute, Bendigo Advertiser (Vic), 22 May 1903, p 3

Citation details

'Code, William John (1861–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 April 2024.

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