It is with great sadness that I advise of the death of Linton Briggs AM. Linton took ill in late 2019 and passed away peacefully in Wangaratta District Hospital in the presence of his wife, Helen on Tuesday, 28 April 2020. Linton’s family were able to attend him during his time in hospital despite COVID-19 restrictions; and close colleagues were able to stay in touch with Linton which was of great consolation to Linton since his interest in the beekeeping fraternity and the wider community never deserted him till the end. He celebrated his 90th birthday on Wednesday 22nd April, and was chuffed with all the well wishes and expressions of admiration and appreciation that were conveyed to him by Helen and sons, David and Andrew.
Linton was one of the true greats amongst Australia’s magnificent beekeepers. As far back as 1964, a young Linton, as Secretary of the NE Branch of the Victorian Apiarists Association, revealed his stripes by organising an international display of the latest in beekeeping technology. Indeed, he was ahead of his times in recognising the importance of stock improvement for Australian Honeybees. A highlight of this 1964 Glenrowan gala, was the introduction of quality Caucasian genetic stock, along with demonstrations on queen raising by one of the world’s leading bee breeders, Everett Hastings from Canada.
A theme running through Linton’s long and illustrious career was the importance of stock improvement, a belief he shared intimately with his friend and colleague, Gretchen Wheen. Other important contributions by Linton included: national quarantine facilities at Eastern Creek, formulation of public policies for protecting the nectar and pollen resource base for productive beekeeping, the Patterson’s Curse saga, pollination services and food security.
Linton was a founding director of the Wheen Bee Foundation which helped ensure a lasting legacy of Gretchen Wheen’s generous gift of her estate to help our beekeeping industry. Perhaps, Linton stands unchallenged in the depth of his contribution to industry politics and governance, leading the Federal Council of Australian Apiarists Associations for many years, and shaping its successor, the Australian Honeybee Industry Council. Linton also found time to understand more about eucalypt biodiversity than many professional botanists. What Linton didn’t know about the life and times of Ned Kelly, and his final demise, was precious little.
A more detailed account of Linton’s accomplishments in beekeeping, primary industry and community affairs will come at a later date. At this stage, we ‘dips our lid’ to a great Australian, a born naturalist, an incredible mentor and example to many and caring family man. Linton devoted his considerable intellect, his self-taught capacity for oral and written communication, and his indefatigable energies selflessly for the benefit of mankind. His loss, both personally and professionally, is simply immense; but his legacy will surely live on. Our thoughts go out to Helen and family in this time of deep loss.
Author: Dr Max Whitten