Wes Gilding was born in Broken Hill in 1923 Son of a Methodist Minister Jasper and his wife Kathleen.
He had an elder sister Joy and later a younger sister Fay and an older brother Jack. Later when he was 33 years old his parents adopted a sister Edna.
As his father moved churches his family moved around the SA countryside until his father was posted to Adelaide. He then entered Prince Alfred College at aged 13 and studied there from 1935 to 1939.
He worked at National Mutual in 1939/40.
Wes joined the army in 1940. He later transferred to the navy at HMAS Torrens and saw active service in Papua New Guinea.
Wes returned from the war in 1945 on compassionate leave. His brother Jack to whom he was very close was a POW in a Japanese camp. The family had been informed that Jack who they had lost contact with was found and alive and would be returning. Tragically he was killed in a plane crash in 1945 on his return from Japan. This had a profound impact on Wes and especially Jack’s Mother who really never recovered fully from this loss.
Wes joined the Commonwealth bank and was actively involved in Methodist youth groups travelling the countryside with musical and theatrical productions.
He opened his first grocery shop in 1949 with partner Jim Ward and during this period he met his wife to be Ruth, they married in 1953. After a 6 month honeymoon travelling across UK Europe India and Sri Lanka they returned to become house parents at Lentara a children’s home managed by the Central Methodist mission
Their first born was Jack who arrived in 1954. “This was the first time in my life I felt really alive” said Wes later.
In 1955 Wes was a pioneer in supermarkets opening one of the first self service discount grocery stores in Marden Adelaide.
In 1959 he appointed a manager in his store and moved full time into what had just been his hobby until then as an aged care administrator. As Manager of Aldersgate he implemented a growth plan and was responsible for adding over 300 beds and many new facilities. His close liaison with Canberra created a new era of cooperation between church and government and was responsible for the introduction of the Intensive care subsidy a subsidy that revolutionised the aged care industry.
After 4 years full time at Aldersgate Wes joined the Central Methodist Mission as full time administrator. During this time CMM activities increased and included aged care, Children’s Homes, Alcoholics rehabilitation and many other social welfare activities. They also owned 5KA.
Wes was responsible for the starting of Goodwill stores and played a major role in the commencement of Life Line. He also spent many nights as Life Line Counsellor.
Wes was invited to join the Australian Council on the Ageing in Melbourne in 1970. During this time he was a member of the Melbourne Rotary Club with such luminaries as Ken Myer Sir Edgar Coles, and Reg Ansett. During this time he started the Melbourne Rotaract Club and was responsible in making it one of the most active city youth clubs in Australia.
In 1954 Wes joined the Brotherhood of St Laurence as Metropolitan Manager of Homes for the aged and was a hands on administrator for 6 years.
Wes’s time spent with the aged over his career gave him good training for his own retirement.
He retired in 1984 and moved to Lobethal where he built a home for himself and his cows overlooking the town and a beautiful garden.
Soon after moving in Wes became very active in community activities, started a walking group and joined the Harmony Club Choir.
He moved to his current residence in Mt Barker in 1994 and wasted no time in becoming an active member of that community. Along with Annice he walked the Hans Heysen trail and covered some 750km. As an active member of the Mt Barker day club he made many new friends and provided energy and entertainment to that club. He was also a member of the Cecelia Choir and was an active participant in ballroom, line and square dancing. During the last six years of his life he formed a close friendship with Frances who provided him with help and support in his final months.
He is widely liked and respected by a large cross section of the community for his friendly and non judgmental style. He has a genuine warmth and compassion and his positive frame of mind has been a major asset in any organisation in which he has been involved.
His sons Jack Tony and Paul have all spent time with Dad in his final days and whilst being deeply sorrowed by his departure are all honoured to have had such a warm loving father.