TONY Charlton's talents were as boundless as his generosity, his mastery of broadcasting evident not simply in the words he found to mark the most dramatic and solemn moments. He is remembered as a mentor to many, and a true gentleman at a time when the description had a depth to match his rich voice.
Charlton, who died on Monday aged 83, will forever come to David Parkin's mind when he hears a football coach lambas-ting his team. ''I can still hear him saying, 'Never finish a media conference or statement without giving your players hope','' Parkin said of Charlton, who advised the former Hawthorn premiership captain on how best to present himself when Parkin began a long coaching career.
He became a cherished friend, one Parkin believed he was farewelling at a lunch organised by Lindsay Fox more than a year ago, as bowel cancer took its toll. ''He's shown amazing courage to survive as long as he has.''
Fox, who met Charlton when the trucking magnate was an aspiring footballer at St Kilda in the 1960s, describes him as one of the most remarkable people he has ever met. ''I couldn't use a better would than love - you loved Tony,'' he said.
Charlton's decision only last week to honour a commitment to Brownlow Medallist Neil Roberts was typical, Fox remarked, of a man who never stopped doing for others to his own detriment, and who refused to accept all accolades.
The middle-distance runner best known for his sense of sportsmanship, former governor John Landy, described Charlton as someone who was always willing to help all kinds of charities and sporting organisations, without expecting anything in return. His philanthropic work for The Alfred hospital and the Flying Doctor Service in particular was widely hailed on Monday.
''Above all I remember him as an incredibly giving person, always willing to help,'' Landy said.
''Just a mighty man,'' is how legendary footballer Ron Barassi saw him. ''He wasn't just an expert and an original at his craft - he had lots of courage and a very strong sense of right and wrong. He was a good friend of Norm Smith, which is a recommendation.''
An interview with a tearful Smith, after his sacking as Melbourne coach in 1965, was one of many highlights in a broadcasting career that spanned more than 50 years. Charlton's contribution to the craft sits proudly alongside that of his father Conrad, an ABC pioneer, and that of his brother Michael, who was a Four Corners original and later a mainstay of the BBC.
Tony Charlton's own credits were many and varied. He started out on radio with 3AW in 1952, covered the 1956 Olympic Games for Channel Nine and a year later called the first televised VFL match for Channel Seven.
Littered around his sporting life were work as a golf promoter and tournament director, and in advertising, which led to presenting TV shows ranging from square dancing to hit parades, and ultimately working on Stanley Kramer's film, On the Beach. At Nine, he went live from Cheviot Beach to inform viewers of the grave fears held for prime minister Harold Holt, and for a time replaced Mike Walsh as host of the Today Show.
With MICHAEL GORDON
The story Pioneering sportscaster Charlton described as a gentleman of the industry first appeared on WA Today.