Husband of Avis; father of Bill, George, John and Peter
Service at Orewa, New Zealand
Awarded The New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal
The following is based on a biography written by Mrs Avis Ridley looking at her husband John's (Jack) life and career from 1919 - 2006:
He was born in Invercargill on 29 April 1919. After living in Invercargill for a further six months, the family moved to Greymouth where his father was an Agricultural Instructor. The family moved once more to Timaru and lived there from 1922 to 1937.
During the 1930s, he attended Timaru Boys' High School and gained the following distinctions: Dux (1937), head of Simmers House, University National Scholarship.
Began studying Engineering and Science at Canterbury University in 1938.
Joined the Territorials (3rd Company NZE, No. 3-3-35) in January of 1939.
Continued studying while in the Army and graduated with a BSc in 1940.
After spending July to December 1940 full-time in Burnham Military Camp, he graduated with a further degree in Civil Engineering from Canterbury University in 1941.
Beginning with the initial rank of Sergeant, he gained a Commission as 2nd Lieutenant at OCTU, Trentham Military Camp in May 1942.
Transferred to 2NZEF (Service No. 256557) in August 1942.
Left NZ in October 1942 for New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands, returning in September 1944. Three months later he left for Egypt and Italy.
At the end of the war in 1945, he was in Florence, Italy, and later in December received news that he had been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. The army granted him leave to take up the scholarship at University College, Oxford.
Graduated with honours in Engineering Science, MA (Oxon), in 1947, and following this took up employment with Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners on hydro-electric development in Scotland.
From September 1947 to February 1948, he was involved with hydro-electric projects with the Ontario Power Commission, Canada, and the Tennessee Valley Authority in the US, all under the auspices of the United States secretary of the Rhodes Association.
Upon returning to New Zealand, he took up employment with the New Zealand State Electricity Department, and later with the Ministry of Works.
He married Avis Annette Reed on 15 December 1949 and, over the next 10 years, had four sons, all born in Wellington: William John Ridley (b. 2 December 1950), George Wallace Ridley (b. 6 November 1952), John Reed Ridley (b. 6 November 1957), and Peter Ridley (b. 8 October 1959).
In May 1954, while working with the Hydro-Electric Design Office in Sydney Street West in Wellington, he was awarded a Commonwealth Fund Fellowship to the United States.
That same year, he was awarded the Efficiency Decoration (ED) for his military service and the Fulton Gold Medal by the New Zealand Institute of Engineers for his paper on 'Seepage and Uplift Pressures Under Hydraulic Structures'.
He relocated to Denver, Colorado, from 1954-55 while working for the United States Bureau of Reclamation.
He returned to New Zealand in August 1955 and resumed his work with the Hydro-Electric Office, working on the preliminary design and investigation of the Benmore Dam Project.
In October 1958, he relocated to Kurow and Otematata where he was Project Engineer in charge of the Benmore Hydro-Electric Power Scheme.
In August 1960, the diversion of the Waitaki River took place. It was notable because it took place during a flood of 22,000 cusecs caused by a large snow melt.
After the diversion of the river, he continued on as Project Engineer in charge of the South Island Power Projects, including Hawea Lake Control, Roxburgh, Aviemore and Upper Waitaki Investigations.
In December of 1961, he received word of an imminent transfer back to Wellington for the following year. An intervening offer came from Australia, and a decision was made instead to go to Utah [a company], Australia.
He and his family moved to Melbourne in March 1962, but before they could take up residence there, he was immediately relocated to West Barwon Dam. The Manager there had collapsed and died during a critical stage of the construction. He stayed there until August 1963, during which time the family lived in Colac.
Was appointed Manager of Engineering Utah (Australia) in August 1963 - the first non-American to receive such a posting. This involved commuting to North Western Australia once a month, working on the Mount Goldsworthy Iron Ore Project.
During this period, he received a call from Sir Woolf Fisher who was looking for a Manager for Development and Mining Operations for NZ Steel. He successfully applied for the job and went ahead to Auckland in July 1965. His family meanwhile stayed in Australia until the end of the school term and then followed him to Auckland in January 1966. He eventually settled and built on land purchased at Manurewa.
After the development of NZ Steel was concluded in 1970, he became a consultant in Murray North and Ridley, particularly for the Taharoa Iron sands.
In 1971, with Hugh Watt's support, he stood for the seat of West Auckland but lost to Labour's Michael Bassett. In the 1970's he served 2 terms for the Taupo seat.
He returned full-time to his consultancy work with Murray North and Ridley, and also workd for Fletchers on the Rotokawa Sulphur Project.
In 1978, he regained the Taupo seat, riding the swing to National.
As part of a CPA Tour, he visited Engineering sites in China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia - in particular the Komojang Geothermal project. Visits eventually led to development on the Geothermal Rotokawa Project as Director of the Joint Venture which was opened by the Government Minister, the Hon. Max Bradford in 1998.
During the 1990s he continued with geothermal development at Rotokawa Joint Venture with Taupo Electricity Power New Zealand, and then Transalta (Canada).
Was awarded the Queen's Service Order (QSO) in 1998.
Jack and his wife Avis retired to live at Orewa, north of Auckland.
Cenotaph record initially prepared with the serviceman in 2000 AWMM