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Alan Michael (Al) Harvey (1951–2009)

by Ron Beck and Les Hawkes

Al Harvey, n.d.

Al Harvey, n.d.

Alan (Al) Harvey was born in Brisbane and grew up with his two sisters and a brother at Brooweena, a small country town west of Maryborough. He attended the local one teacher school and was taught by the same teacher for his entire primary years.

Following secondary school at Maryborough Boys State High in 1968 Al won a State Scholarship in Forestry. After one year at the University of Qld and three years at the Australian National University in Canberra, he was awarded both a B Sc Forestry with First Class Honours and the Schlich Medal for the honours student showing the most promise in Forestry in the Class of 1972.

Al commenced his distinguished professional career in 1973 as a Research Forester in Yarraman. This experience, and subsequent time in Brisbane, engendered a career long interest and expertise in Plantation Modelling. His research, supported by post graduate studies in statistics, led to several published research papers during the late '70s and early '80s.

Al married Bev in 1984[1] and a career shift in 1984 placed Al on the operational forestry “merry-go-round”, with Forester postings to Rockhampton and Gympie Districts, and District Forester appointments to Murgon and Brisbane.

About this time Al began contracting a string of unexpected illnesses. Two cases of pneumonia and extensive testing finally confirmed Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) as the cause. Fortunately, immunoglobulin therapy allowed him to maintain reasonable health for the following 10 years.

Forestry in Queensland underwent radical structural surgery in the 1990s. Again Al’s personal qualities characterized by incisive intellect, logic, perception, meticulousness, fearlessness, along with his well developed interpersonal skills, breadth of knowledge and achievements saw him rapidly promoted to very senior managerial positions. Appointment as Manager, Native Forests Production in 1992 was followed by General Manager, Marketing and his inclusion in the Forestry Executive management team in 1996; roles in which he made a huge impact.

Al was a consummate professional, whose integrity and loyalty to the Team never wavered even during the most trying challenges. His contributions to forestry are vast and will be lasting, and his involvement in the development of the world’s most advanced plantation yield simulation system (“ply sim”) must rank as an outstanding achievement, for him and many others.

At this time Al’s health took another “hit” with the diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. He was stoic beyond belief, never complaining and refusing to take time off. Demonstrating unbelievable tenacity, mental toughness, discipline, and the courage to keep going, he pressed on to be appointed General Manager, Operations in 2000 with line responsibility for all operational and research activities across the state. He retired from this position in July 2006 after 37 years of meritorious service to Forestry in Queensland.

Unfortunately Al’s health continued to suffer as he battled with several health problems, which culminated in his cardiac arrest on 19th August 2009.

The family is setting up an Alan Harvey Memorial CVID Research Bursary to encourage research into the unusual set of issues that beset him.

Al was a loving husband, father, grandfather and family man, with a unique ability to separate work from the rest of his life. He enjoyed playing tennis, camping, woodworking, gardening and computing. He had a quiet, often dry humour accompanied by a ready smile and a sharp one liner on almost any topic.

It is always sad to lose a friend and colleague. When one is so young it seems unfair and tragic. Al’s star qualities drove him on and guaranteed his memory will shine bright in the minds of all who have had contact with him.

Bev and family can be enormously proud of a great man and an exceptional Forester. Our thoughts and best wishes go with them.

Original publication

Citation details

Ron Beck and Les Hawkes, 'Harvey, Alan Michael (Al) (1951–2009)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

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