Biggles Flies Away

August 25, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE | 3 Comments |

Vale Graeme Bignell (1938-2015)

A big crowd gathered at Adelaide Oval for a moving and friendly memorial service to farewell a Great of Glenelg who passed away recently, aged 77, after a long struggle with ill health.  Graeme drove a cab in Melbourne as a young man and then took on a month by month job selling cars (if he sold 12 in a month, he kept his job), whilst bringing up 2 children on his own.

big3Having become a phenomenal success at his chosen career, he moved to Adelaide in 1971 to take over the reigns of a failing Ford dealership, and built it into the formidable ADTRANS Group, an $800m publicly listed company which, when successfully merged in 2010 (Graeme continued as Chairman till his retirement after the transition), was worth about $4 per share.  He was a visionary entrepreneur who summed up his philosophy to business and life in general when accepting the 2006 Ernst & Young Champion of Entrepreneurship for SA: “Look for the positives every day.”

big2A number of business leaders and public figures attended the service, as well as several past greats of the Club.  Apart from members of Graeme’s family, Graham Cornes also spoke about his mentor and one-time boss, saying of him that “If you were the captain of a team, Graeme would be your first selection, but you wouldn’t remain Captain very long!”

Cornes and Bignell plan the 1986 Triumph

Cornes and Bignell plan the 1986 Triumph

In Pride of the Bay, Peter Cornwall wrote of Graeme Bignell:

“A successful businessman and strong leader, Bignell had a solid partnership with Graham Cornes when he was president in those halcyon years in the mid-to-late 1980s,”  Cornwall added that he was a “major benefactor of Glenelg Football Club.”

The Club’s website stated simply, and justly, that we had lost a great man.


  1. Reply

    Dianne Bignell

    September 26, 2015

    Graeme Bignell was my husband for nearly 30 years.
    He was the bravest man I know especially battling horrific pain in the last years of
    his life. pAin that would have been unbearable for even the strongest person.
    Since he's died the pain is all consuming but he has left me with so many
    memories and counsel it helps me to cope.
    I love you Graeme David and will till the day I die.
    Your wife Dianne Jae xx

  2. Reply

    Michael Rabey

    March 17, 2018

    Graeme was an outstanding member of the Apex Club of Adelaide in the 1970’s and gave of his time and efforts to support many community projects. He was a natural leader and great mentor.

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