Royal Papua Yacht Club, Life Members
Born on 21 October 1928 in Sydney NSW John Ralston Wild was the second child of John and Millicent Wild. His early years centred around the family home in Randwick in Sydney.
John attended Randwick Public School then the Christian Brothers College Waverly, playing lots of sport and joining the Cadet Corp. During these early years John was an active member of the Coogee Surf Club and rowed surf boats competing in National Surf championships.
He then attended the University of Sydney to study a Bachelor of Architecture, working with the Public Works Department during vacations and graduating in 1951. He went on to work in Launceston Tasmania and Sydney ‘until the winter drove [him] to seek warmer climes’ he wrote in his autobiography ‘The Wild One’. It was during university that John played rugby union for Randwick Football Club was joined the Australian Citizen Military forces attaining the rank of lieutenant.
John accepted a 2 year contract with the Commonwealth Department of Works and arrived in Port Moresby on 2 September 1952 in the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea at 23 years of age.
A year later in 1953 John married Patricia Rose Goriss in Port Moresby and they had seven children, Deborah, Victoria, John, Michael, Timothy, Anthony and Simon. Unfortunately, Anthony did not survive early infancy and son John passed away in 1999 due to illness. John Wild was the consummate family man and the children enjoyed growing up in Port Moresby and had a very happy childhood and family life.
In his earlier years in Port Moresby John played rugby league for the Paga Club of Port Moresby and went on to represent Papua. A growing family curbed his footballing and by the early 1970’s golf had made way for a stronger commitment to his main passion of sailing. He was a competitive sailor in both dinghy sailing and yacht racing and went on to win numerous trophies in his yacht ‘Mekim Save’.
In March 1956, after 3 ½ years with the Commonwealth Department of Works, John struck out as the first private architect in TPNG. He found the early years as a private practitioner quite tough nevertheless for almost forty years his was the major architectural firm in what became Papua New Guinea. He provided residential, commercial and industrial architecture to a wide client base including the major companies at the time Steamships, Burns Philp, Westpac Bank, South Pacific Brewery, Bougainville Copper, PTC, various
Embassies and High Commissions and the Catholic Church, with projects undertaken in all Provinces. In fact, any building of significance in those days was most likely designed and documented by John Wild Architects. John Wild in those days was, like many in the Territory, a larger-than-life figure. He was a commanding presence at site meetings, a man of enormous energy; a quick wit at the RPYC bar; open house on Wednesday evenings, he treated his staff as family, he skilfully nurtured young local talent. He was not afraid to try something new and, most certainly, did not suffer fools.
It was also in March 1957 John became a member of the Pap Club in Port Moresby. An aviation enthusiast he purchased a small Cessna 185 in 1983 to enable him to better supervise the many projects he had under way in various parts of PNG. The Cessna was piloted by his son John who was interested in aviation. He bought Mawaneuna Plantation, not far from Samarai Island in Milne Bay and added a Lake Buccaneer amphibian to his fleet and Milne Bay Air or MBA commenced in 1987. His time and energy for maintaining the architectural practice was waning and finally let it go in June 1990 into the capable hands of Peter Mildner. MBA was recognised for the use of a Gruman Goose - P2-JWB (RP-C864, VH-MBA) however John built up his company to 6 aircraft of various types by 1989 and operated as a charter company in the resource development industry. In September 1992 it obtained its Regular Passenger Transport license and has sin-ce rebranded itself twice; in 1997 to become Airlines PNG and in 2015 to PNG Air.
John’s love for sailing and leadership capabilities galvanised his involvement at the Papua Yacht Club and in 1971 he was made Commodore of the Club. Late in 1972 he was commissioned to draw up plans to extend the club house to a 2 story building. These plans visualized a two story expansion on the northern end to provide a new kitchen and dining room, provision of an upstairs airconditioned lounge bar, a permanent games room and improvements to the bar and cold room complex.
With the arrival of “Mekim Save”, a Bruce Farr designed ½ tonner from New Zealand in 1977, John won several offshore championships here then placed 3rd at the World ½ ton series in Sydney. He did however win the Royal Swedish Yacht Club trophy for the best performance by a production boat in that series. In 1978 Mekim Save won the Commodores Cup, Little Ships Trophy and the Rabaul / Kavieng race. Thefollowing year he placed 2nd to “Apollo” in the inaugural Cairns to Port Moresby race. In 1980 and 81 he won the Varivari Island race to take out the Torres Straits Pilots Trophy and with more wins another Offshore Racing Championship trophy. He then won the second Cairns to Port Moresby Race.
John was awarded life membership of the RPYC in 1974 became a citizen of PNG at Independence in 1975 was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to architecture and town planning, aviation and the community in December 1998 and in 2011 he was made a Companion of the Star of Melanesia(CSM) for his services to commerce, particularly in air transport and tourism, and to the community and for humanitarian endeavours. Unfortunately, John passed away on 14 October 2014 as a result of his failing health.