Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Stride, Douglas William (Doug) (1911–1995)

by Beverley F. Ronalds

This article was published online in 2019

Douglas William Stride (1911–1995), banker and philanthropist, was born on 25 November 1911 at Ballarat, Victoria, third of five children of Godfrey Nicholas Stride, civil servant, and his wife Ruby Langridge, née McKenzie, both Victorian born. Ruby’s parents ran McKenzie’s Hotel, a popular holiday resort at Woodend, and her brother William served (1927–47) in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The family moved to Caulfield, Melbourne, and Doug attended (1925–27) University High School before joining the Commercial Bank of Australia as a junior clerk in 1928. He became a share clerk and by 1934 was attached to the general manager’s office at the bank’s Melbourne headquarters. A keen sportsman, who had played lacrosse at school, he met Eunice Dorothy Thorn, a clerk, playing tennis. They married with Anglican rites on 25 February 1939 at St Mary’s Church, Caulfield.

Rising steadily through the bank hierarchy, Stride was secretary to the general manager (1946–51) and then chief accountant (1951–57). His international focus was sharpened as manager (1957–64) of the London office, where he became ‘well known and respected throughout the financial community’ (Perry 1995, 19), fostering Australasian business opportunities in Britain and the European Economic Community. Returning home, he served as manager (1964–65) of the Melbourne office, assistant general manager (1965–69), chief manager (1969–71) of the corporate and international division, and deputy general manager (1970–71), before his appointment as managing director in 1971.

With striking blue eyes and a quiet, direct, and informal manner, Stride ‘was always calm in a crisis’ (Perry 1995, 19). He was jovial with a cheeky sense of humour when circumstances allowed. His time as managing director coincided with large-scale mining and energy project investment opportunities and rising consumer expectations, but ongoing tight financial controls in Australia. His resulting priorities—aimed at providing returns for shareholders and customers, and good employment conditions for staff—included internationalisation, diversification, and modernisation. In his seven years at the helm, annual operating profits rose more than fivefold as the bank grew and transformed from ‘a fairly stuffy style to a modern, progressive operation’ (National Times 1972, 36). Active in most time zones, the bank adapted to changing global economic conditions, and utilised improved long-distance communication and computerisation to support accelerated development in Australia and the western Pacific through ‘an integrated range of financial services’ (Wood 1990, 339).

The bank’s updated facilities extended to futuristic skyscrapers for capital city offices, but a 1973 plan to demolish the old domed banking chamber at the Collins Street headquarters was in conflict with an emerging public sentiment to preserve notable architectural history remaining in the city centre. To Stride’s intense disappointment, the dome became one of the first buildings listed on Victoria’s new Historic Buildings Register in 1974.

Retiring as managing director in 1978, Stride was appointed AO. He continued until 1982 as a non-executive director, during which time the bank merged with the larger Bank of New South Wales to form Westpac Banking Corporation. As chairman (1979–81) of the newly created Australian Dried Fruits Corporation, he helped to promote the export of dried vine fruit. He was a member of the Melbourne, Australian, and Athenaeum clubs and played bowls at the Auburn Heights Recreation Club (later MCC Kew Sports Club), where the ‘Doug Stride Green’ (Chapman 1999, 53) bears a plaque to his memory.

Stride was a generous benefactor to many organisations both through the bank and in a personal capacity. He received the National Gallery of Victoria’s medal (1977) for distinguished service to art, was appointed a life governor (1987) of the Austin Hospital at Heidelberg, and supported St Mark’s Anglican Church, Camberwell, where he worshipped. Widowed in 1972, he married Eleonoh Eileen Mars, née Harris, at St Mark’s on 3 July 1975. Her father and first husband had been successful mining engineers and she and Stride established the Mars-Stride Trust in 1985 to support children in need. Survived by his second wife, and the two sons and daughter of his first marriage, he died on 26 July 1995 at Kew, Melbourne, and was cremated. In 2002 Stride Lane in Gungahlin, Canberra, was named in his honour.

Research edited by Samuel Furphy

Select Bibliography

  • Bankers’ Magazine of Australasia 84 (April 1971): 301
  • Chapman, John, and Gloria Chapman. The History of the Auburn Heights Recreation Club, 1904 to 1998. Melbourne: Surrey Printing, 1999
  • National Times (Sydney). ‘Douglas William Stride.’ 3–8 July 1972, 36
  • Perry, Jack. ‘Stride Gave All to Banking, Business and Bowls Club.’ Age (Melbourne), 18 September 1995, 19
  • Wood, Rodney. The Commercial Bank of Australia Limited: History of an Australian Institution 1866–1981. North Melbourne: Hargreen Publishing Company, 1990

Citation details

Beverley F. Ronalds, 'Stride, Douglas William (Doug) (1911–1995)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stride-douglas-william-doug-28263/text35964, published online 2019, accessed online 17 September 2019.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2019