Much-loved commentator Charlton farewelled

Among pioneer broadcaster Tony Charlton's many legacies was a series of eulogies, always word and pitch perfect.

It meant that he left impossibly big shoes when the time came for his own adieu.

He helped a little by nominating the venue – the members' dining room at the MCG – and explicating much of the detail, including, for instance, that if necessary, the curtains should be shut against the glare. This, all noted, was very TC.

No one remembrance would have sufficed. Tim Lane MC-ed, and MCC president Paul Sheahan spoke, preceding Charlton's son Jon, daughters Robyn and Cathy, and four grandchildren.

For Robyn, it was her public-speaking debut; she prayed for her father's inspiration, and it came. A who's who of Melbourne sport packed the room; Charlton had been a friend to all, and a confidant to many. The Reverend Tim Costello led the praying.

A portrait emerged of a loving and much-loved man, known to the world by his mellifluous voice, diction and mastery of words; a face always crinkled from smiling; and to many by the giant heart that animated them.

He captained the first XI at Perth's Scotch College and had a peak golf handicap of four; some days, he and Jon would play 54 holes at Barwon Heads.

Charlton broadcast football on 3AW, and on Channel 7 from televised football's beginnings, also later on Channel 9, and covered golf and cricket and five Olympic Games.

He interviewed characters as diverse as round-the-world yachtsman Sir Frank Chichester – exclusively – British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and US senator Robert Kennedy.

For 25 years, he set the tone for every MCC function.

He worked tirelessly to raise money for charities, never asking a cent for his services. Chief among them was The Alfred hospital, which became his cause after Cathy's heart transplant. He arranged for her to brought home from the US for the surgery, even having the curfew at Sydney Airport temporarily lifted.

"How does one do that?" asked Cathy, still wondrous 20 years later.

He kept on his bedside table a picture of First World War diggers in their trenches; Jon said their sacrifice drove him every day.

He was perhaps best known latterly as MC of the Anzac Day service at the Shrine of Remembrance; his voice and silence was all that was needed there.

All remembered Charlton as a perfectionist, in language, but also in dress and manners.

This was not for stickling's mere sake, but because he believed that striving to meet high standards brought out the best in people.

He abhorred talking with a mouthful, which only made him all the more vulnerable to family one-upmanship one day when he choked on a chip while broadcasting.

He always considered himself privileged, most of all in the love of his family.

He made passing light of his final illness and almost to his last breath was bestowing blessings on others.

Two weeks ago, he was at the launch of the Seekers' 50th anniversary tour. Yesterday, Judith Durham, unaccompanied, sang The Carnival Is Over. At length, all joined in, if only to dam the tears.

Lane concluded as he imagined Charlton would have, with an apposite quote.

"Not everybody can be famous," said Martin Luther King, "but everybody can be great because greatness is determined by service."

So, for the last time, did Tony Charlton sign off.

This story Much-loved commentator Charlton farewelled first appeared on WA Today.