HONEST, loyal and well respected.

He was a few weeks shy of his 89th birthday.

Bendigo born and raised, Major Balsillie – or John, as he was known – was recognised numerous times for his services to the community and the nation.

He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1969 for his services to the Australian War Memorial, which included finding relics ‘under hazardous conditions’ and over a number of years.

Major Balsillie was one of the first 100 army apprentices to enlist in 1945, and served for 40 years.

Upon his retirement in 1985, he was the last soldier with continuous service in the Australian Regular Army from the Second World War.

Postings included Vietnam and what was formerly Malaya, as well as Broadmeadows, Puckapunyal and Townsville.

Major Balsillie was the final mayor of the City of Bendigo, serving from 1993 – 1994.

The Australian Roll of Honour remembers him as a driving force behind the local government reform that led to the formation of the City of Greater Bendigo.

“When he became mayor, one of the first things he said was needed was jobs, jobs, jobs,” Major Balsillie’s wife, Greta, said.

As a former director of CVGT, Mrs Balsillie said her husband strongly believed in creating opportunities for young people.

An award for mechanical engineering apprentices is named in Major Balsillie’s honour.

The new library being built at Quarry Hill Primary School will also be named Balsillie, reflecting the family’s long-term involvement with the school.

“It would have been fantastic for him to have witnessed the opening of the building,” principal Jo Menzel said, noting that it was almost complete.

Grade Four students are eligible to receive a citizenship award named after the father of ‘Major John’, Andrew Calder Balsillie.

Mrs Balsillie said her husband was very proud of his five children – Andrew, Ian, Neil, Stuart and Fiona – and all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Major Balsillie will be remembered during a ceremony at the William Farmer Victoria Street Chapel in Eaglehawk from 11am on November 15.

Courtesy Bendigo Advertiser