John (Jack) Villiers was a proud Australian and an even prouder Central Queenslander. Affectionately known as ‘Jack’ in his adopted Queensland, he lived a simple life. Quiet and modest he was a sincere, caring gentleman — always generous to those in need.
Born in England in 1912, his mother was the daughter of prominent Melbourne businessman George E Porter and his English father was an officer of the P&O Steamship Company.
John went to school in London, and aged 15 became a sailor, like his father. He won a P&O scholarship and spent two years at the Training College on the Thames, followed by a three year apprenticeship on P&O ships to the Far East and Australia.
During the Great Depression and with his family now living in Australia, he worked as an Able Seaman around the Australian coast until 1934 when he decided to try his luck on the land.
John’s first job on the land was as a jackaroo on his uncle’s farm near Stanthorpe, Queensland. He worked on several large Queensland stations until the outbreak of World War II. At the start of the War he joined the 26th Battalion, and transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1941. John returned to the land after the war and eventually purchased a 120 ha. (300 acre) farm on the north coast of Queensland between Mackay and Sarina where he ran cattle for beef and milk for many years.
Jack retired in 1966 to the coastal town of Yeppoon, where he stayed until moving into Rockhampton in 1982. He returned to Yeppoon in January 2000, living at the Capricorn Adventist Retirement Village. He died peacefully at home on 11 July 2002, 37 days short of his 90th birthday.
Laid to rest at the Yeppoon Cemetery on 16 July 2002 John Villiers is remembered as “A True Gentleman”. The cover of the Order of Service from that day featured a defining image of John: sleeves rolled up, smiling and raising his big Akubra. A final farewell to us all.
The story of John (Jack) Villiers might have ended with his death, but his estate of approximately $6.75 million was left solely for the benefit of charities working in Queensland — through this Trust his legacy continues.
John had always been modest about his family background, but had inherited significant wealth through his mother, Mary Ida Porter. This wealth allowed him to build the capital which now forms the basis of The John Villiers Trust.
John was aware of how lucky he was. He knew that he wanted his privilege to benefit others. The establishment of the trust has created a unique opportunity — enabling others to make their own mark, their own difference and build their own legacy.
We’re here to make the most of this opportunity.