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Stanley Gray (Stan) Jennings (1909–1961)

by Keith Jennings

Dad was born on 13 October 1909 in Brisbane and died on 5 November 1961 in Brisbane. He was the eldest of four children (Stanley, Nancy, Irene and Keith) of parents Arthur Stanley Morehouse Jennings and Mary Gray, who lived at Buranda in Brisbane. Unfortunately, Arthur died on 11 November 1921, leaving Dad to assist his mother in raising the family.

He attended Dutton Park State School (meeting Andy Anderson there) and then completed his secondary education at Brisbane Grammar School (1921-26) before attending the University of Queensland (1927-29). During 1927 he was appointed a cadet with the Forestry Department for his pre-requisite courses and spent time (in 1929) in charge of a survey camp in north Queensland and also in south-east Queensland at the head of the Brisbane River. He then went to the Australian Forestry School (AFS) Canberra for 2 years (1930-1931). Other Queenslanders in 1930 along with Dad were Reginald Henry Doggrell and Kelvin Paul McGrath; whilst in 1931, they were joined by Alexander Gustaf William Anderson and William Ritchie Suttie. On graduation he was awarded the Sir William Schlich Memorial Medal as the outstanding student of the year. After graduation he returned to Brisbane on management and silvicultural work under Silviculturist, Alan Trist. He was subsequently appointed to the following positions:

District Forester Dalby in 1939 (he married Evelyn Sarah Earle on 12 October 1935 in Brisbane and subsequently four children were born; Roslyn and Earle (in Brisbane), Keith and Elisabeth (in Dalby);

District Forester Gympie in 1947;

Officer in Charge of Forest Products Research Branch (Head office) in 1952, a post he held until his death in 1961.

It was during his term as O/C Forest Products that his career blossomed. He was instrumental in development in the following areas:

Advocate for head saws capable of precision sawing, for efficient disposal of waste, for correct grading and treatment of timber, for the adoption of efficient sawing patterns, particularly with plantation thinning, and for mill studies;

Preservation (CCA treatment) in both eucalypts and softwoods, leading to improvements in sawmill economics e.g. Finger jointing, laminating, strength testing and seasoning methods;

Expansion of sawmill and seasoning studies and the creation of a statistical group in the Branch, later assisted with computers;

Building of the new sawmill and seasoning facilities at Rocklea to replace the old mill next door to the Princess Alexandra Hospital;

Along with Cec Haley and Lew Rogers, he obtained approval for the establishment of a soil laboratory at Beerwah that led to further research specialisations and ultimately through Tom Ryley (and others) to setting up the Gympie Forestry complex. Unfortunately it no longer exists in its previous configuration;

His ability to relate silviculture to expertise in forest products research by adding the study of ultramicroscopic structure of softwoods. He was an ardent supporter of the Eastern States Timber Industry Stabilisation Conference and later the Australian Timber Industry Stabilisation Conference, thoroughly subscribing to the aims, objectives and principles of these bodies. In addition, he was the Chairman of the Qld Branch of the Standards Association of Australia. During the proceedings of the Qld Timber Industry Committee in 1959, he did a momentous job for both the Department and industry in presenting and preparing facts for the guidance of the Committee.

He was the first President of the Institute of Foresters of Australia from Queensland and served from March 1958 – November 1959 when he had to retire due to illness. Bill Bryan subsequently took over as President for the next two years. During the formation of the Queensland Division he was a central figure in all Institute activities and was regarded as being one of the Institute’s most prominent and able members. He was also instrumental at the Institute’s second Conference in Canberra in 1958 where his leadership qualities and personality came to the fore to guide such a conference and to make an outstanding contribution to it at the same time.

From 1953 until he died, Dad represented his fellow officers on the Council of the Queensland Professional Officers’ Association and was elected each year from July 1954 to June 1961 either as Junior or Senior Vice-President and served on several Association committees.

During his time at the University of Queensland, he joined the Royal Australian Navy Reserve (RANR) in Brisbane as a Midshipman on 1/7/27 and was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant on 1/4/29. His service was terminated on 1/10/29. Whilst at Dalby during the Second World War, he joined the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) E Company, 7th Battalion on 5/4/42 and served as a Lieutenant. As a result of his time served, he was awarded (along with others who served in the VDC), ‘The Australia Service Medal 1939-45’. Dad was a keen sportsman and played 1st XI cricket at Brisbane Grammar School, cricket and hockey at the AFS in Canberra and Grade cricket for Souths Cricket Club at Fairfield in Brisbane. At a Forestry Social Club dinner in the early 1970s, the then Conservator of Forests (Cecil Haley) generously told me that if Dad had not passed away in November 1961, he would have been the Conservator of Forests in 1970, taking over from Alan Trist.

Original Publication

Citation details

Keith Jennings, 'Jennings, Stanley Gray (Stan) (1909–1961)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 30 May 2024.

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