Farewell, to 'old mate' Jock Marks

A LIFE WELL-LIVED: Jock in his early years, dressed to attend a dance. Jock in his later years, and Jock while working on a cattle station. Pictures: Contributed
A LIFE WELL-LIVED: Jock in his early years, dressed to attend a dance. Jock in his later years, and Jock while working on a cattle station. Pictures: Contributed

At 84, Jock Marks, a man who loved his home town of Kiama, passed away peacefully on February 14.

Jock (so-called because when he was tiny, when asked his name he could not say 'John' properly and instead would say 'Jock') arrived in Kiama from Mudgee in May 1939, aged four and a half, with his parents, Albert (Bert) and Bessie Marks, and his four elder siblings, Alex, Joyce, Olga and Donald, and two younger sisters. Marion, and one-year-old Elsie. The large and very close family moved into 61 Barney Street - which was then surrounded by bush and lush green paddocks - where they, and his youngest sister Denise, who was born in 1948, lived until the end of 1964.

Jock and his siblings all attended Kiama Central Public School, the two-storey, grey basalt building that is now part of the Sebel Hotel.

He had fond recollections of schoolmates and of the friendships they shared - going to the beach, the rock pool, the football, often accompanied by his beloved dog, Jim. During the holidays, the local kids always caught up with the 'campers' kids' who stayed in tents up near the Blowhole. Over the years many lasting friendships were formed. Jock often spoke of the friends they made way back then.

Jock loved the freedom that growing up in Kiama allowed young people; everyone seemed to look out for each other, providing a wonderful sense of community and camaraderie.

He loved dancing and always enjoyed going to the local dances, all dressed up in his freshly-pressed suit, white shirt, and shiny black shoes.

Jock's first job was on the railway, at the station. He then decided to look for work on stations of another kind - on large sheep and cattle stations in the Central West of NSW and Central QLD. Here he worked as stockman, Jack-of-all-trades' and cook. It was probably here that Jock realised his love of cooking; never using a recipe but always providing a truly delicious meal.

In 1965 he headed to England where he pursued and married the love of his life, Betty. When he and Betty returned to Australia with their two children, Denese and Nicholas, in 1972, he worked on the Water Board until he retired, and then as gardener and odd jobs man.

Jock always had a great garden, both flowers and vegetables, which Nicholas referred to as 'vegetables on steroids', particularly when they lived in Bong Bong Street, where Ki-Print is now. Even at his unit in Flinders, he could not resist putting some tomato plants among the roses.

Jock loved fishing and used to often go out with some of the local fishermen in their boats. He used to cook a delicious baked bream with herbs. In recent years he loved to catch up with his family at the harbour or at one of tables and seats overlooking Storm Bay for fish and chips.

Jock's love of Kiama and his keen interest in its history led to him assisting at the Pilot's Cottage once a month for a number of years. Jock had an amazing memory and his intimate knowledge of the area enabled him to provide a wealth of information to the visitors.

Though his address at this stage was Flinders, he still thought of Kiama very much as 'home'.

Jock was a people's person. He had a great sense of humour and he loved company. There was nothing he liked more than to have a yarn about old times, the friends he had made or the many places he had been to throughout his life.

At his funeral, Henry Lawson's poem, 'To my old Mate' was read - a fitting tribute, which reflected Jock's sense of friendship and camaraderie and a special connection to place.

Nothing he loved more, that is, except his adored late wife, Betty, and family - Denese and Murray, Bram and Torsten, and Nick and Michelle, and Beth and Will - all of whom he was just so proud.

A life well-lived.

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