Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1322 ..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
It is worth while pausing to revisit Professor Pryor's achievements and his outstanding contribution to public service in the ACT. Professor Pryor spent 22 years with Parks and Gardens, 14 of them as director. In that time he did, among other things, the landscaping for the Australian National Botanic Gardens, the Australian National University, the Australian War Memorial, the preparations for Lake Burley Griffin and the suburbs of Deakin, Fyshwick, Narrabundah, O'Connor and Red Hill. He was also responsible for the substantial plantings we see today at Acton, Ainslie, Braddon, Civic, Duntroon, Forrest, Griffith, Kingston, Manuka, Parkes, Pialligo, Reid, Turner, Telopea Park and Yarralumla. The new ideas that Professor Pryor brought to his work were mixing the planting of exotic and native species, and advance planting - getting the trees in before the development took place. But it was not just the planting.
Academically, Professor Pryor's contributions and achievements are no less spectacular. His core qualifications were in science - a masters degree and PhD from the University of Adelaide. He was the Schlich medallist, awarded to the outstanding graduate of the Australian Forestry School at Yarralumla where he studied. That school was later incorporated into the Australian National University as the Forestry Department. He was the ANU's foundation Professor of Botany, Dean of Studies and chairman of the Board of General Studies. As well, he was the executive secretary of the Papua New Guinea Biological Foundation, the Australia and South Pacific Science Foundation, which was established in the late 1960s to foster science in the south-west Pacific, and the Slade Science Foundation in Australia. He was also a member of the Institute of Foresters and Landscape Architects.
Mr Speaker, Professor Pryor was also widely published. Among his best known works are Street Trees of Canberra, and Classification of Eucalypts, written jointly with Dr Laurie Johnson, director of Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens. He was awarded the Mueller medal at the 47th congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 1983 he was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia.
Professor Pryor was also passionate about sharing his knowledge, attracting overseas students to study at the ANU long before it became fashionable. He viewed 1947 as a turning point in his life. He spent it in Europe and North America, picking up ideas and species for transplanting in Canberra. His work later attracted the attention of the United Nations where he headed up the United Nations forestry program, whose charter was to develop plantations in countries where there was a need for timber that would grow quickly.
At the age of 50, when most people are starting to wind down, Professor Pryor was continuing to wind up. He gained a private pilots licence to help him quench his thirst for field trips to remote parts of Australia looking for new species. He continued flying until just after his 70th birthday. By any measure, Mr Speaker, his was an extraordinary life lived by an extraordinary person. Professor Pryor is survived by his second wife, Nancy - his first wife, Wilma, died in 1975 - and his four children, Elizabeth, Anthony, Geoffrey and Helen. I am sure that all members will join with me in expressing our deep sympathy to Professor Pryor's family and in acknowledging his fine academic career and his distinguished service to our city of Canberra and to his nation.