OBITUARY: by Damian WyldNews Weekly
A humble man with a large vision: Mark Posa (1927-2012)
, August 18, 2012
Mark James Posa. Born December 5, 1927. Died July 25, 2012.
As with many good men, Mark Posa’s legacy will survive in the minds and hearts of those he touched, rather than in books, honours and monuments.
A stalwart of the Movement since the 1950s, Mark James Posa passed away on July 25, 2012, aged 84.
Mark J. Posa
Originally from Bruce Rock, Western Australia, Mark’s entry into the ranks of the National Civic Council is a story known to many. Leaving his church after Mass one evening, he was accosted by a man who suggested, with some insistence but very little detail, that it was quite important for Mark to attend “the meeting” about to start in the church hall. Mark did so — and the rest, as they say, is history.
Within a few short years, the family man, footballer, lifesaver and trained industrial chemist found himself boarding a train for Adelaide at the request of B.A. (Bob) Santamaria. Mark’s assignment there was supposed to be only a temporary arrangement. He was to help establish the NCC in what was, after the 1955 Labor Split, fairly hostile territory. As it was, the task became his life’s work. As the NCC’s founding South Australian state president, Mark directed the organisation and its campaigns for nearly four decades.
Since I became NCC state president in 2006, I’ve frequented places and spoken with people in an attempt to “break new ground”. What never ceases to amaze me though, particularly when heard from quarters I never expected, is the oft-asked question: “And how is Mark?” Mark clearly made an immeasurable impact, the extent of which was perhaps unknown even to him.
His remarkable tenure, lasting from the Menzies era well into that of Howard, saw a humble man achieve extraordinary things with very little help.
On his arrival in Adelaide, Mark once recalled, he thought he ought to present himself to the then Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Matthew Beovich, despite the latter’s post-Split opposition to the Movement. Beovich received him and noted the fact that Mark was a convert to Catholicism.
Mark’s response, on being asked why he converted, exemplifies the contagious humour for which he was well-known. “Well, Your Grace,” he said with a smile, “I looked at the clowns who’ve been running this show for the last 2,000 years and figured that if it’s still here it must be divine.” The Archbishop was apparently unimpressed.
Mark’s resources were also minimal in the early years. The recent volume, edited by Patrick Morgan, B.A. Santamaria: Your Most Obedient Servant, includes a letter from Santamaria to Mark, suggesting that the latter take out an overdraft in order to get some secretarial assistance. Likewise, Mark’s office space was often of the poorest kind.
With a chuckle, Mark once told me of his first office, located in the heart of Adelaide, but in shockingly substandard condition. Visitors to the office one day heard a muffled cry from the corridor, followed by clouds of plaster dust billowing through the doorway. Rushing in, they saw Mark emerging from the rubble. The entire ceiling, weighed down by a foot of pigeon droppings, had caved in.
Persistence, however, paid off, and Mark, with a small but growing group of hard-core supporters, continued the battle in the trade unions against the communists and their fellow-travellers. During the Vietnam War, he was extremely active exposing the anti-American agenda of the left-wing organisers of the Vietnam Moratorium marches. He helped the development of NCC-inspired Democratic Clubs at Adelaide and Flinders universities.
He also supported the many ethnic communities whose members after the war had fled the communist takeover of central and eastern Europe and settled in South Australia. He played a prominent role in the Captive Nations’ Council and supported the free Vietnamese community.
Particularly noteworthy was Mark’s work with the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). Aside from running its South Australian operations as the party’s state secretary, he was also a parliamentary candidate on many occasions, both state and federal. With the SA Legislative Council having long since abolished its regional districts, Mark would quite possibly have been elected on other parties’ preferences were his 3-3.5 per cent election results to be repeated today.
At his funeral, the massive congregation heard of a man whose “life was divided between his four great life adventures: family, Church, politics and football”, much like that of his friend B.A. Santamaria.
The following is taken from the Posa family’s tribute to Mark:
“Mark was a humble man with simple dreams, yet a large vision. He had no focus on material gain, however he had a passion for the truth and worked tirelessly to this end alone. His faith drove him to speak out for justice; and his love for the Church, though sometimes controversial, was always loyal and committed.
“His laughter was ever infectious, even in the nursing home, and we will sorely miss his utter joy in living.”