NOOSA – Marie Charley has died in Sydney aged 93. She was the doyen of my favourite family and wife of my great comrade, the late Philip Charley OAM.
Marie, a school teacher by profession, had accompanied Phil for most of his long career in broadcast management, usually taking teaching positions along the way.
“Their romance smacked of the silver screen,” their son Peter Charley, an award-winning journalist, now a senior executive with Al Jazeera in Doha:
“My mum, at age 20, was flying Tiger Moth aircraft for the thrill of it and encountered dad in the aircraft hangar one evening when his jazz band had assembled for a gig.
“It was a case of the suave clarinet player and the super glamorous aviatrix.
“Soon, the chase was on – literally - with dad falling face first into the mud while running after mum to ask her for a date. They married three months later.
“More than anything, Phil loved my beautiful mother, Marie, who returned that love unconditionally… standing by a sometimes flawed man right to the end.
“The stuff of Hollywood movies, an epic love affair unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”
In the early years of their marriage, Marie and Phil lived in country Queensland, where Phil managed radio stations 4ZR Roma, and NSW, where he ran 2QN Deniliquin.
In 1970, they made a remarkable decision - to move to Papua New Guinea where they lived for nine years in Madang, Goroka and Port Moresby.
Phil managed radio stations in Rabaul, Madang and Goroka, becoming a senior executive in the National Broadcasting Corporation in 1974.
Throughout these years Marie taught, and was acclaimed as an educator of great capability and warmth.
I met Marie and Phil in 1970 and was immediately overawed by Marie’s beauty and intellect.
Marie was a woman of extraordinary elegance and sweet strength. Phil had fallen in love with Marie at first sight, and so did the rest of us who knew her.
Ingrid Jackson, who knew Marie well, has written, “My forever darling, darling friend Marie. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. There are no words good enough.”
We extend condolences to Marie’s children, Philip, Stephen, Peter and Gina, and to all members of the talented extended Charley family.
A funeral service will be held next Tuesday in the Magnolia Chapel at Macquarie Park in Sydney. The service will be webcast and further details will be provided as available.