Vale Gene Willsford

Craft ACT Life Member Gene Willsford died on 2 February 2019 at the age of 98. She was a major force in the formation of Craft ACT and helped to shape its continued success.



Gene graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Sydney in 1945 and worked on projects overseas and in Australia. In 1957 she moved to Canberra and worked for decades on public housing projects and public buildings. In 1970 she started working for the National Capital Development Council (NCDC), and around this time was part of the collective of interested parties who formed the Craft Association of the ACT (now Craft ACT).

Gene was generous by nature, supporting her community and mentoring many female architects. Her services to Canberra architecture were recognised by the ACT Branch of the Australian Institute of Architects who named an award in her honour: The Gene Willsford Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions). She was also a keen woodworker, co-founding the Canberra Woodcraft Guild in 1980.
Gene was instrumental in the establishment of Craft ACT’s Watson campus in the late 1970s, helping to design the building that is now the Watson Arts Centre. In fact, an early Craft ACT invitation template featured a sketch by Gene of the Watson building. She was granted Life Membership in the early 1980s.

The board, management, staff and membership of Craft ACT is sincerely grateful to Gene Willsford for her contribution to our establishment, our history, and setting us up for a bright future. We send our heartfelt condolences to Gene’s family and friends.

Thank you to Meredith Hinchliffe for her recollections of Gene and her knowledge of our history.


Gene Willsford, photo supplied.