A sad farewell to Sydney's storyteller, Ian Ross

Chris Reason

Ian Ross, the man who delivered the news to Sydney for decades, has died at the age of 73.

Over the years Ross became a legend of Australian television; respected and trusted with a warmth that made him loved.

After battling cancer he passed away earlier today in a Gold Coast hospital.

He was known as Roscoe to his friends – and that meant everyone.

He is remembered as one of the most popular readers in Australian television history, with a perfect mix of on-road experience and on-camera charisma.

Former Today Show host Steve Liebmann said: “People trusted him, they felt comfortable with him. They liked him because he was just a good bloke.”

After a start in radio for Sydney's 2GB, Ian Ross began his TV career in 1965. Photo: 7News

The award-winning journalist started his media career at radio station 2MW Murwillumbah on the far north coast of NSW, where he did everything from writing advertising scripts to hosting his own program.

Ian ended up back in Sydney in 1961 and got a job in 2SM's first news room, before starting a television career as a Channel Nine news reporter in 1965.

Affectionately known as Roscoe, the award-winning journalist started his media career in 1957 at Sydney radio station 2GB.

He took his young family to London in 1972, where he worked for the now-defunct television wire service UPITN. Returning to Australia in 1974, Ian slipped back into his job at Nine.

In a career that spanned 13 Prime Ministers, it also included two retirements – the first from Channel Nine after 38 years with the network.

With more than 50 years of broadcast journalism behind him, Ian Ross was the anchor of Seven's top-rating 6pm news bulletin in Sydney from 2004 to 2009.

It was then that Seven swooped, luring him to the flagship 6PM bulletin in 2003 and the ratings soared.

He was Sydney’s storyteller, but the story he remembers most was Black Saturday in 2009, a career benchmark.

Just months later he chose to call it a night, telling viewers for the last time ‘thank you our viewers, for your trust, loyalty and all the support you've shown me and us over these six years, I wish you all good luck and good health, so I'm Ian Ross and for the final time, thanks for your company, good night’.

Then, just four years into retirement, the man who brought us both the good news and the bad succumbed to the worst news possible when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

He refused chemotherapy, insisting ‘I have decided that the only way to handle this friggin' nightmare is to remain as positive about it as I possibly can’.

He passed away at 3.01AM this morning. The funeral will be on Monday and a eulogy will come from 40-year friend Prue MacSween, who describes Ross as ‘just the most glorious man, so dignified and so loyal’.

Photo: 7News

He is survived by a former wife, three children and eight grandchildren.

But his most important life love is Gray Bolte, his partner for 22 years.

Mr Bolte said: “We have lost a much-loved partner, father and grandfather .. who won a legion of fans during his time in the media.”

For so many years he farewelled us.

Sadly now it is our turn to farewell him.

Australia pays tribute to Ian 'Roscoe' Ross

Friends, family and former colleagues have all joined the public in paying tribute to the legend of the news industry in Australia.

“He was known as the hard news man with a soft centre,” said Daivd Koch on Sunrise.

A Statement from Seven News:

The entire team at Seven News is deeply saddened by the death of our wonderful colleague, friend and mentor, Ian Ross.

In a career spanning five decades, Roscoe was one of the most popular newsreaders in Australian television history – a perfect mix of on-road experience and on-camera charisma.

More than that, he was respected, trusted, and with a warm personality viewers loved. What you saw on television was the man behind the scenes. He was loved by everyone in the newsroom.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Roscoe’s partner Gray and his family.

Veteran news presenter Ian "Roscoe" Ross with long-term partner Gray Bolte. Photo: 7News

Director of Seven News, Sydney, Chris Willis, paid tribute to Ian:

“We all loved Roscoe. He was the consummate newsman and a wonderful human being. He had incredibly high professional standards and could be a tough task master. He led our news brilliantly in the time he was here.

“He was also great fun to work with. He was serious about his job, but didn’t take himself too seriously and frequently entertained the newsroom with jokes at his own expense. We will all treasure our memories of Roscoe.”

Support and information for those affected by pancreatic cancer is available from the Cancer Council website or by calling 13 11 20.