It was the way celebrity agent John ‘Jack’ Fordham was always bound to go – surrounded by loved ones and a Who’s Who of Australia’s political and sporting scene.
The manager to sports, entertainment and media stars died on Sunday after a three year battle with throat cancer, age 75.
Hundreds of mourners crowded the St Francis of Assisi Church in Paddington, east Sydney, with former prime minister John Howard and broadcasters Alan Jones and John Laws rounding out the old guard.
Presenters Sylvia Jeffreys and Lisa Wilkinson – both clients of the Fordham Company – and morning TV personalities Richard Reid and David Campbell led the media contingent.
Meanwhile, Mr Fordham’s pallbearers included cricket legend Mark Taylor, Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart and grand final winning Sydney Swans trainer Paul Roos. That was just the beginning of the list of stars.
John’s daughter, the lower-profile of three Fordham siblings, artist, Sarah, delivered the eulogy after her brother Nick joked: ‘For those we don’t know, yes, we do have a sister’.
Sarah told the hundreds of mourners that she knew that her father would be ‘telling the tallest of tall tales’ in the next life.
‘A celebration of his life’: John Fordham’s son, 2GB broadcaster and journalist Ben Fordham, outside the St Francis of Assisi Church with children Pearl and Freddie
Mr Fordham was farewelled by hundreds of family, friends and the celebrities he managed at a funeral in Sydney on Friday. Pictured, the order of service
Mr Fordham’s pallbearers included (left to right) former Sydney Swans coach Paul Roos, businessman Mark Bouris, ex-cricketer Mark Taylor, footballer Adam MacDougall, animal expert Matt Wright and Ricky Stuart (not seen above)
The Fordham siblings, together and matriarch Veronica (centre): Publicist Nick Fordham (left – wife Liz by his side), Sarah Fordham – who gave the eulogy – and Ben (far right) after the service
Sylvia Jeffreys hugs Ben Fordham. The Nine presenter is managed by The Fordham Company, John’s brainchild
Lisa Wilkinson, David Campbell and Richard Reid huddled together as John’s coffin was carried out
Former prime minister John Howard was among mourners to farewell John Fordham on Friday, alongside an old guard including broadcaster Alan Jones and winemaker Sir James Hardy
Mr Fordham is survived by wife Veronica; Sarah; 2GB radio host Ben and his Seven News reporter wife Jodie; publicist and talent-agent son Nick and wife Elizabeth; and his five grandchildren, Maisie, Coco, Freddy, Pearl and Goldie.
A fully composed Sarah shared her father’s final moments. She recalled Nick got his ‘third and possibly favourite son Ricky Stuart on the line’ and the family stood around John in a ring.
‘Mum (Veronica) said thank you for being my man,’ she recalled. ‘We told him he fought a bloody good fight and he need fight no more.’
‘Together we ushered him forward into his next life. He simply fell into a peaceful sleep.’
The service heard Mr Fordham – a former newspaper journalist, Qantas head of public relations and founder of The Fordham Company – only considered himself retired the day before his death.
‘He got very fired up that a client’s contractual agreement in jeopardy and suggested to Nick how to handle it,’ Sarah said.
Not bad for a boy from Bingara
John Fordham’s favourite saying, referring to his outback NSW hometown
John ‘lit the fire in the bellies’ of his two sons, career-wise. Nick having followed in his father’s footsteps from 17 and Ben into journalism, she recalled.
Ben brought his father to the Australian Commercial Radio Awards recently, and tried to bring his dad on-stage, but was told: ‘No mate. This is your night’.
In the next life, Sarah said she could see her father sitting at his favourite bar in Waikiki, with Heinekens on ice, Billy Joel’s Piano Man blaring, telling ‘the tallest of tall tales.’
Sarah said he would boast of his greatest love, wife Veronica, and ‘with a cheeky glint to his eyes (give one of) his favourite quips: ‘Not bad for a boy from Bingara’.
‘Cheers to Jack and so long, daddy-o’, she said.
Ben Fordham with daughter Pearl and son Freddie, as they bade farewell to a father and grandfather. Fordham recently welcomed his third child, daughter Goldie, described as John’s ‘newest little princess’
Sarah and Veronica Fordham (behind bagpiper) walked the hearse down Oxford St, Paddington with a police escort to the applause of the hundreds of mourners
Who’s who: Kings Cross nightclub identity John Ibrahim (left), entrepreneur Mark Bouris, and Alan Jones paid their respects
Legendary broadcaster John ‘Golden Tonsils’ Laws (pictured) and former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson attended
They were once radio arch-nemeses, and John Laws and Alan Jones were once again reunited outside John Fordham’s memorial service on Friday afternoon
Old tensions gave way to a good-natured gibes as mourners spilled out onto Oxford Street, Paddington
Sylvia Jeffreys, wielding a copy of the order of service, attenedd with her husband, Sky News’s Peter Stefanovic
Lisa Wilkinson and David Campbell shared a warm hug on the steps of the sandstone church. The Fordham Company also represents Lisa’s husband, Peter FitzSimons
Sylvia Jeffreys (centre) and husband Peter Stefanovic make their way into the church
Sydney Swans player and coach Paul Roos – a pallbearer – and his wife Tami
Hundreds of mourners milled about outside the St Francis the Assisi church in Paddington before the hearse took John Fordham away
On Monday, Mr Fordham was posthumously awarded an Order of Australia for service to charity.
Mr Fordham and his wife Veronica established The Fordham Company in 1979 and it now manages some of the country’s biggest sporting and entertainment names.
The day after his fa