More than 150 journalists, colleagues, friends and politicians turned out for the memorial service in the Washington Press Club for Ross Mark, the Australian born newsman, who headed the Washington bureau of the Daily Express for more than 30 years.
Tributes from those who couldn’t attend came in from elsewhere in the US, England and of course Australia. They included messages from former colleagues Ivor Key, Dermot Purgavie, Brian Freemantle, George Gordon, and former Express foreign editor Ian Brodie. They were read by another former colleague Gilbert Lewthwaite, who reported that in many ways it was a sad – and tearful – occasion.
But there also some humour. Former Mailman Dermot Purgavie who described Ross as a “fine and fastidious writer” and the perfect epitome of a foreign correspondent, handsome, snappily dressed and cultured.- and a man who could say “My friend will pay” in a dozen languages!
Ivor Key, a former Expressman, who occasionally stood in for Ross in Washington recalled he warned him once “In this town don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see”
Brian Freemantle described his former colleague as “the sort of foreign correspondent I would like to have been but never was…” He added that if Ross had ever accepted the editorship of the Express (which he was offered twice) the Express would have remained more the paper it once was . “And none of us would have left” he added.
George Gordon, a former rival on The Mail, recalled the times when he would receive a late night call from his foreign editor telling him “”We’ve got egg all over our face. Ross Mark has scooped us again.” At the same time Ross always made a trip to Washington a “special pleasure.”
Ian Brodie, who some 40 years ago was for a time foreign editor of the Express, described Ross as “swift and competent”. He recalled the many occasions when a story broke and an he was about to call Washington, his old telex machine by his desk would start clattering and out would start pouring out the copy he wanted from Washington – as smooth as cream.
At the service was Mark’s wife, Charmayne, also a Washington journalist, to whom the president of the Washington Press Club presented a duplicate of her husband’s Press Club membership card – and urged her to use the club as much as she liked- or perhaps as much as her husband did. The service ended, appropriately, with the playing of Waltzing Matilda.