Born 23 February 1909 in North Melbourne, Victoria. Died 26 May 2009 in Melbourne, Victoria.
Born to Michael and May McCraith in North Melbourne on 23 Feburary 1909, Gerald was the oldest of three.
Gerald served in the army signals training battalion from 1940-1945. Posted in Bonegilla, Sydney and was in Darwin during the bombing raids on that city, and this may be where Gerald's love of travel was sparked.
He was demobbed in May 1944 under manpower requirements and joined his brother Jack in his established rabbit business of supplying food for the army and the British ministry. At that time the Army had commandeered the firm and daily shipments of rabbits were sent to Army establishments at Royal Park, Seymour, Puckapunyal and Bonegilla. The business was originally started in their parent’s backyard in Cooper St Essendon, then after the war moved under the railway viaducts at the corner of Spencer and Flinders streets opposite the old fish market.
During the 40's and 50's the business prevailed but Gerald found time to build two large glasshouses at Roberts Street.
Gerald, during his life had been a member of numerous orchid societies including the Victorian Orchid Club which he joined in 1931 and of which he was President from 1959-62. In 1960 he assisted in forming the Australian Orchid Council and became its first Vice-President and then in 1964 President. During his term as President Gerald was instrumental in bringing the 6th World Orchid Conference to Sydney in 1969. In 1967, he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the AOC for his work.
Gerald attended every World Orchid Conference since the 4th WOC in Singapore until the 17th WOC in Malaysia in 2002.
Gerald was a member of Maribyrnong Orchid Club where he was a Patron, an Honorary Life Member of the Orchid Species Society of Victoria, a life member of the Native Orchid Society of Victoria and a member Warringal Orchid Club.
Gerald was a co-founder of the Australian Orchid Foundation in 1976. The AOF is a voluntary non-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to promote Australasian Orchids in either a horticultural or scientific field. Gerald stood down from his role as Director with the AOF in February 2008.
In 1986, After 20 years of campaigning Gerald was successful in achieving his vision to have Australian Native Orchids featured on a set of Australian stamps, this set was issued by Australia Post .
In 2005 at the 18th World Orchid Conference in Dijon, France he was awarded an Orchid Society of South East Asia Fellowship. for his contribution to the development of Orchid interests, conservation and cultivation in Australia.
In 1993 Gerald was awarded Membership of the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to horticulture.
Source: Extracted from: His grand daughter's eulogy, Bin Dixon-Ward. June 2009.