Vale Dr Bill Blackmore
By Dr Cameron Grant (Adelaide University)
Vale Dr AV (Bill) Blackmore 1928 – 2022
Bill was a disciplined empirical scientist who loved to work in the lab, and who believed no experiment should be undertaken without clear questions that would produce unambiguous outcomes. When faced with a difficult scientific problem, he would sometimes disappear during lunch breaks, and be found lying under someone’s desk (apparently asleep), only to re-appear after lunch with multiple suggestions on how to test a new idea. He was a strong proponent of putting the subconscious mind to work by summarizing all the available evidence immediately prior to a short, deliberate break from the lab environment.
As with many who grew up through the Great Depression in the 1930s, Bill lived frugally as an adult, and gained pleasure from modest leisure activities. He became a horse-racing enthusiast and followed the daily statistics to predict (with some accuracy) the winning horses without ever experiencing the inherent risks of laying down a bet. He was a keen bridge player, and a committed jogger who repaired the soles of his runners multiple times before investing in new ones. In fact, he boasted he got several thousand miles out of a pair of runners! In later years he took up croquet, partly for social purposes but also because he loved witnessing the physics of ricocheting objects across frictional surfaces.
Bill served as Treasurer of the SA Branch of Soil Science Australia (alongside Angus Alston) in the years leading up to the 9th International Congress of Soil Science, Adelaide, 1968. He retained an interest in the Society during retirement and followed its publications: “Soils News” and “Profile” while they occurred in printed form.
Bill met the love of his life, Virginia Rowland, through croquet, in his late 70s. They travelled widely, became expert at SUDOKU (trying only the hardest puzzles), and tackled the daily crosswords while deliberately omitting clues!
Bill contracted COVID in July, declining quickly thereafter; he died after a short stay in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 14 Sept 2022. He will be missed and remembered as a kind mentor, with a sharp wit and an active mind.
Dr Cameron Grant has written a wonderful obituary reflecting on Bill’s career and research highlights, complete with photos and references which you can download here: Dr Bill Blackmore obituary.