Vale A R (Ross) Gilby

April 29th, 2024

18 October 1926 —13 July 2023

By Colin Beaton

The death of Ross Gilby, a 65 year resident of Canberra, marked the end of a life that encompassed far more than his distinguished CSIRO career. Ross was a significant force in the early days of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Canberra Youth Orchestra.

Ross Gilby

Ross was born in North Balwyn Victoria and educated at Box Hill and Melbourne High Schools. He was awarded a Daffyd Lewis Scholarship to study Chemistry at the University of Melbourne. He commenced work at Australian Paper Manufacturers where he met his future wife, Marjorie. He furthered his studies in Chemistry at the University of Melbourne and was awarded a Master of Science with First Class Honours.  Following this he moved to the University of New South Wales where he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

He commenced work at the CSIRO Division of Entomology where he was granted a CSIRO studentship to study for a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

On his return to Canberra he continued his research on insects, focussed on the chemistry of insect cuticle, of  defensive secretions and of insect muscles, his career concluding with work on the fumigation of stored grain.During this time he also spent a sabbatical at Yale University.

However it is probably for his involvement in music in Canberra that Ross will probably be remembered by most Canberrans. The Gilbys are a musical family. Marjorie, a violinist, was a member of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. The children’s instruments were Anne — oboe, Barbara — violin and viola, Martin — French horn and Janet — Violin and Viola. Not to be outdone, Ross was a late starter/part time trombonist.

It seemed inevitable that the Gilby parents would become involved in the Canberra orchestras. He and Marjorie were both members of Music Viva. Ross was the inaugural president of the Canberra Youth Orchestra and accompanied the orchestra on its European tour in 1974 to participate in the International Festival of Youth Orchestras. Both parents volunteered as pastoral carers at numerous National Music Camps in the 1970s. Ross was also Orchestra Manager of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and one of the early supporters of the case for the establishment of the Canberra School of Music.

Outdoor activities also featured in Ross’ life. He was a keen participant in fun runs, and active in orienteering in Australia, Hong Kong and Canada. He walked and trekked in the Himalayas, in New Zealand and in Tasmania.

Ross is survived by Marjorie his wife of 71 years, their four children, five grand-children and six great grand-children. He is greatly missed by his family and many friends.