Vale James Waites

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James Waites (Photo by Brett Monaghan at
James Waites (Photo by Brett Monaghan at

The friend of many, James Waites died having lived a full and colourful life earlier this year.

Jimmy was a friend of mine, too, introduced through Virginia Gordon at one of her many salon style luncheons.

I enjoyed meeting James on a number of occasions for coffee where I would come to learn more about his idiosyncratic love for life, his humour, and his passion for hearing and sharing stories. 

I also came to know the caring and considerate side of James at the many lunches I was able to share at Virginia’s gatherings.

He was reverent and cheeky at once, perhaps best typified by the time he leant across and whispered secretly to me after an engaged conversation with a beautiful blond who was at the table: “I asked for her number, Matt, pretending to need it for something else, just in case you wanted to call her”, he earnestly confided in me as he slid her number towards my direction across the tablecloth in something more fitting of espionage. He was too polite to ask what happened next, and I never did call her, but I always smile when I remember James’ good humour by creating that situation.

James was a sponsor of the 10 City Bridge Run, which was an extremely generous act for him as I came to know later as I learnt more about his life. 

I know James would have been very excited to follow my journey especially across Papua New Guinea, the country where he was born and raised. The stories he told me of Papua New Guinea were golden. I’ll be carrying your memory back there when I run in Port Moresby, Jim, as I set about opening a conversation to ask: “how can we use our networks to improve the delivery of child survival?”

Thanks for the inspiration.