Vale Mark Stokes (OX 1945)
Friday, 17 December 2021
Mark spent four years at Xavier College transferring from C.B.C St Kilda during Year 8.
He repeated that year to pick up a second language (French). This may have had a bearing on his future career in the Army. After completing Year 11 he was told he would not be continuing at Xavier and was at a loose end. One goal had always been to join the Army and fight for Australia.
Riding home after a round of golf, he passed the Drill Hall in Ripponlea where they were recruiting for the AIF Army of Occupation Japan. He went in, picked up the forms and went home to fight the battle with his father. He won after agreeing he would not claim he could drive.
He remembered marching into Watsonia and receiving his first issue of Army gear. He had been a cadet so it was not entirely strange. For his training he was sent to a camp outside Greta in NSW on the flanks of a hill called Mollie Morgan. Punishment details often entailed a run up her slopes.
He was trained as a clerk and typist during this period. He obtained the rank of Corporal.
He and his mate learned that the placement officer was coming to enrol people in a Language course at Point Cook Japanese Linguist for Courts and employment roles. Both applied and were shipped to Point Cook where the standard was one week learning and 99% pass on Monday morning. Mark survived but after a few weeks his mate did not.
At 3 months the level was lowered to 90%. After 6 months they had embarkation leave and sailed for Japan via New Zealand. They were to collect another party of linguists from Wellington.
They were transferred to BCOF headquarters at Kure and while continuing study, were assigned to various roles. The Japanese population quickly realized they could understand the language and Mark spoke of whispers preceding them "Careful. He understands".
They did not have badges identifying which group they belonged to, so they were quickly spotted.
He was vague as to whether he was there more than a year, but it was an incredible time. He made friends among the population of Japanese who supported and provided care for them. Some of his early mistakes were made among the staff who provided their meals, and he remembered telling a large group of women wanting work they had better come to his place. They all laughed and went home.
The base at Kure was very close to Hiroshima and Mark remembered walking there many times hating what had been done. Of course, he brought home some terrible photos among his souvenirs.
He loved looking out over the Inland Sea which was behind the camp. He was asked to reenlist as his second year rolled around but that was for six years and he decided he had had enough so opted to leave and two days later was on the Kanimbla heading home.
After discharge he worked and then entered Melbourne Boys High to face Matriculation. Duly passing he applied for Medicine but did not succeed and after another year of office work entered the Pharmacy College in Swanston St.
He was one of the oldest students in his year.
His first job as a pharmacist was medical detaining for Glaxo; animal products to farmers in the Western District and Tasmania; human products to Collins St specialists.
In 1957 he started his own Pharmacy, first in Centre Rd East Bentleigh and then moving to the main shopping centre.
Mark met Jean while he was working as a hospital reliever in 1956 in Horsham, they became engaged in 1957 and married in 1958 at Xavier Chapel. Father Stephenson officiated as fast as usual. Kevin Coghlan was Mark's best man.
After marrying they lived in East Bentleigh, Euroa, Caulfield, East Malvern, Donvale and Somers.
Mark took up Golf again while in Euroa and Lawn Bowls. Sport is important in country towns.
While living in East Malvern he built his first boat and sailing took over his spare time. Patience was a 12 ft Mirror class dinghy.
While still in East Malvern and driving to Blackburn for the Pharmacy he found time to start his second boat - a 16ft Trailer Sailor duly named Sam Gamgee. Once Sam was sold he started his third a keel boat, a 24ft Vaarschip named Pirili. She hung on moorings at Williamstown and then moved to Sandringham into a pen.
By this time, we were living in Donvale and sailing became hard to fit in to life.
Mark sold the Pharmacy in Blackburn Rd and joined the Health Department as a Psychiatric Pharmacist and remained with them until he turned 65 and had to retire.
He undertook a Graduate Degree in Environmental Science at Monash but changed courses and undertook a Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy at the Hofbauer Centre in Alma Rd St Kilda, graduating under the auspices of Melbourne University. This was a three-year course of supervised practice, lectures and self-therapy.
He graduated and went into private practice for eight years which he found deeply satisfying.
His last years were mostly lived at Somers where he took up Golf again at Flinders Golf Club playing twice weekly in the "comp". He achieved a greatly desired "Hole-in-one" during a comp and his name is on the Honour Board in the Club House.
His health had been declining, at 65 eventually he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and underwent Chemotherapy for that. He was told he would be lucky to get to his eighties, so he built his underground boat - a Coffin. Just after his 70th birthday he was diagnosed as having Coeliac Disease and abstained totally from gluten products. The cancer retired and was in remission.
However, his heart decided to join in and he had 6 arterial bypasses to his heart during his 71st year, He continued to play golf and at around 81 he had a Pace Maker and Defibrillator installed. Still played golf until about 88 when he was finding it harder and harder to get around the links despite a ride-on cart.
Mark and Jean had six children. Mark is our only son, attended Kostka for a year but eventually completed his education through Kingswood Grammar, La Trobe University and is an Associate Professor at Deakin.
Our five girls mostly went to Sacre Couer but the last attended Loreto and finished at Carey.
The family have presented us with thirteen grandchildren and no great grandchildren. Several of our grandchildren have qualified in Trades, one is a teacher, and one is a Nuclear Technician.
Mark read widely, especially in Mysticism, issues of faith and the human condition. He was an active dreamer and recorded his dreams for years and wrote reflections on them.
After retiring Mark and Jean travelled, they we went to Europe, England and Scotland and the United States. Mark would not go back to Japan although he retained his language and talked regularly with three grandchildren who were studying at secondary and university levels.
Mark and Jean moved to Weary Dunlop Retirement Village just prior to the Pandemic starting and have found it difficult, however it was of benefit when Mark started to fail quickly as he was cared for in the Palliative section and his family were able to be with him in those last days.