John Michael Landy, AC CVO MBE FSTE OLY, has died at the age of 91.
John Landy was well known for his athletic achievements and for his public service but he also made generous contributions to the local community. He was the Patron of the Daylesford-based Great Dividing Trail Association (GDTA) for 25 years and actively supported initiatives to increase active healthy lifestyles.
John Landy was a gifted athlete who represented Australia in Commonwealth and Olympic Games. He vied with Roger Bannister to be the first to break the 4-minute mile but achieved the feat two months after Bannister at a meet in Finland in 1954. Landy famously stopped during the 1956 Australian Championships to assist fallen runner, Ron Clarke, back to his feet. He took the Olympic Oath on behalf of athletes at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. At the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, he was the final runner in the Queen’s Baton Relay, presenting the baton to the Queen at the MCG. He is a Legend of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.
Landy was active in public life. He was commissioner-general for the Australian pavilion at Expo-86 in Vancouver and Chair of the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Advisory Committee in 2009. He was the Governor of Victoria for five years from 2001 to 2006.
He was a committed naturalist and conservationist. He served on the Victorian Land Conservation Council from 1971 to 1978. He authored two books on natural history, Close to Nature: A Naturalist’s Diary of a Year in the Bush (Viking O’Neill, 1983) and A Coastal Diary: A Study Of One Of Australia’s Wildest And Most Beautiful Coastlines (Pan Macmillan Australia, 1993).
John Landy was Patron of the Great Dividing Trail Association from 1997 until his death last month. Because of his love of nature and outdoor activities, the GDTA held a special place for him. He was generous with his time for the GDTA. He opened the Lerderderg Track and the Leanganook Track and he launched the GDTA’s award-winning Goldfields Track Guide.
John lived the last years of his life on his property near Castlemaine. He was progressively limited by Parkinson’s disease for several years before his death. In a message to GDTA members in the December 2020 issue of the GDTA POST, John said, “Most days, I spend time sitting at the window soaking up the views and natural beauty of our bush block at Castlemaine. While I can’t really walk there any longer, I can and do still enjoy the view. It never palls. I have always appreciated and admired nature in all her splendour.”
GDTA Track Ambassador, Steve Moneghetti, said, Mr Landy was “a father figure to so many… He thought about other people at his own expense. I’m sad that he’s passed on but I’m so delighted I got to spend time with him.”
GDTA President, Gib Wettenhall, added “He was a great supporter of the GDTA and understood our importance in not only getting people out exercising, but out and about experiencing and engaging with the natural world around us.”
John is survived by his wife of 51 years, Lynne Fisher, and two children, Matthew and Alison. Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews has announced that there will be a State Memorial Service for Mr Landy.
Tim Bach is a Daylesford resident. He is the Editor of the GDTA POST and a co-editor of The Wombat Post. This is an edited version of an obituary which was published in the GDTA POST and is reproduced here with permission.