Sir John Holland
The collapse of the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne on 15 October 1970 caused the deaths of 35 workers. The Royal Commission into the incident was very critical of all involved in its construction. Holland retired as chairman of the John Holland Group in 1972, and in 2000 the Leighton Group bought 70 per cent of John Holland Group; this was increased to 100 per cent in October 2007. He took a personal interest in every employee, and insisted they be involved in community service. He himself was involved in various causes, including the board of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Bone Marrow Foundation, a co-founder of the National Stroke Foundation, the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, chairman of the Sir Edward Dunlop Memorial Committee and, from 2000, as patron of the Children First Foundation. He was a keen sportsman in his younger days, and later became president of Royal Melbourne Golf Club and patron of Flinders Golf Club.
John Holland was knighted in 1973 for services to engineering, and made a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1988 for service to the community, particularly to youth and in the field of medical research. Holland received the Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Award (1974), the Kernot Medal of the University of Melbourne (1976), the Consulting Engineers Advancement Society Medal (1984), and the Queensland University of Technology Distinguished Constructor Award and the Australian Constructors Association Award for Distinguished Service (both 2001). ÊHolland was a Foundation Fellow and from 1975-80 the first Honorary Treasurer of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, and in November 2004 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Academy, a rarely awarded honour.
In 1942 Sir John Holland married Emily Joan née Atkinson, with whom he had a daughter and three sons. She died in 1999 and in 2003 he married Suzanne Wharton, who had three sons from a previous marriage. Holland died at Cabrini Hospital, Melbourne on 31 May 2009, aged 94, survived by his wife, four children, three stepsons and 20 descendants and step-descendants.
Since 1999 Engineers Australia has a Sir John Holland Award for Civil Engineer of the Year.