Passing of Property Leader Sir John Pidgeon

One of Queensland’s most respected business leaders Sir John Pidgeon (a building and property development icon) passed peacefully away on Thursday night at the age of 89. 

The family company FA Pidgeon & Son Pty Ltd was started by his father in 1927.  Sir John joined the family company in 1946 after service in the AIF.  His addition to the company along with his sister, and business partner, Valmai soon expanded the company’s activities to a point where by the late 80’s it was a dominant force in Queensland construction and development.  The two siblings formed a formidable and enduring partnership. 

The company went on to leave its mark on the skylines of Brisbane and the Gold Coast.  The Pidgeon name became synonymous with building Queensland until the 1990’s when it was decided to cease that part of its business activities.  It was calculated at that time that approximately 30% of Brisbane’s CBD had been built or developed by FA Pidgeon & Son.  Key development projects undertaken by the company were Waterfront Place and Eagle Street Pier in the Brisbane CBD, the Gold Coast Oasis Shopping Centre and hotel including the Broadbeach Monorail, the Suncorp Metway building, Cathedral Square and residential towers at Dockside in Brisbane.  One of Brisbane’s former Lord Mayors would regularly refer to Sir John as “John the Builder”.  When asked which was his favourite project, Sir John would answer “The next one!”. 

Sir John had a long standing interest in sport, particularly lifesaving, which led to his continued support of the Surf Lifesaving Association over many years and snow skiing which he continued to actively enjoy, even at the age of 89. 

He served the wider community in the Queensland Cancer Fund, as Chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board and Red Shield Appeal and as Chairman of the Queensland Master Builders Association and the Building Services Authority. 

He was together with his sister Valmai, also highly regarded for philanthropy to the arts, education and heritage preservation. 

In recognition of his “significant contribution to the construction industry and to the community”, Sir John was knighted in 1989.  With knighthoods being abolished soon after, Sir John was occasionally thereafter referred to as “Last Knight” a title he held until recently with the knighting of Sir Peter Cosgrove. 

He was one of the first people to be inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame and to date, the only Queenslander to have been inducted into the Property Council’s Australian Property Hall of Fame. 

Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison says: "Sir John transformed the skylines of Brisbane and the Gold Coast and was renowned for his business acumen, his philanthropy and generosity. He was a true property leader."

A man known for his modesty and privacy, Sir John once said “Many times I have seen ego and greed contribute to the downfall of people and companies.  Ego and greed always seem to go together”. 

Family and friends report that Sir John lived life to the full right to the very end and always maintained an enormously positive attitude towards life.  His family report that even whilst he was unwell during the last few weeks of his life when asked, “How are you feeling?”, John would inevitably reply “Never better!”. 

Sir John passed away at his long term Brisbane home surrounded by his family.  He is survived by his 5 children, 14 grandchildren and sister Valmai.  Sir John survived his spouses, Sylvia who passed away in 1991 and Pamela in 2011.

The funeral will be held on Monday 13 June 2016 at 10.30am at St John’s Cathedral, 373 Ann Street, Brisbane.