Mark Anthony Conyers, former managing director of Trinidad Publishing Company (TPC), the forerunner to Guardian Media Limited, died on May 4 at age 95.
His long and illustrious career at the company spanned 47 years, starting in 1943 when he joined the Trinidad Publishing Company as a trainee in the Advertising Department.
Born October 7, 1925, in British Guiana, Conyers came to T&T as a teenager and attended St Benedict's College in San Fernando. His first job was as a junior clerk at JNR Goddard in Barbados but after joining TPC he quickly rose through the ranks and within five years he was appointed Advertising Manager. In 1959 he was appointed to the Board of Directors.
After his retirement in October 1990, Conyers served as chairman of TPC for one year.
At the helm of TPC, the parent company of the T&T Guardian, Conyers faced one of his greatest challenges during the attempted coup of July 1990
He recalled in an interview: "We were determined at all cost to keep the newspaper going so that the readers would be informed about the events taking place. I had every confidence in the Government and the people that they would restore democracy to our country."
Another trying time came when the Guardian Building on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, was destroyed by fire in April 1980.
Conyers, who was quoted at the time as saying that "any attempt to destroy the Guardian was an attempt to destroy an institution," spent the next nine months getting the newspaper back on its feet and was full of praise for the help provided by the company's dedicated journalists.
Over the years, Conyers held several leading positions in the regional media industry, including chairman of the Caribbean Publishing and Broadcasting Association, a board member of CANA News Agency, a member of the Management Committee of the Commonwealth Press Union of London, a director of the Inter American Press Association and a board member of the Barbados Advocate.
He was one of the first directors of Radio Guardian (later known as 610 Radio) and when Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) was established in 1962, he was the Thompson representative on the board.
Conyers also held positions in a variety of businesses, including chairmanship of the now-defunct McEnearney Alstons Group, McEnearney Business Machines, Trinidad Match Factory, McEnearney Insurance Brokers Limited and Diesel Power.
But he was a newspaperman to the core and in an interview many years ago, said of his experience at the helm of the T&T Guardian: "It is a seven days a week, 30 days per month and 365 days per year job."
He firmly believed that even with the popularity of the electronic media there was no substitute for the print media: "It is a means by which you could retain permanent records for the future."
Throughout the Guardian Media family, past and current employees paid tribute to the former Managing Director.
Robert Alonzo, an editor, remembered him as "someone who stood for production, principle, and excellence among those in the workplace."
He added: "His style of an open-door policy to all employees was unique in that any worker could have simply approached him if and when there was an issue. Promptly he ironed out the matter. God bless his soul and may he RIP."
Fitzroy Dove, a retiree, said Conyers was managing director when he joined the staff of TPC as a security officer in September 1984.
"He was a fair person who had an ear for any staff complaint. He was a team player and he made everyone feel included. His advice to the security staff was that their role was very important, in that their mannerism at the entrance gate decided whether the company gains or loses a client," he said.
"As an employee, I was very comfortable interacting with him. He was that kind of person. May his soul Rest In Paradise."
Also paying tribute was Salima Mohammed, now retired, who was the administrative assistant to former circulation manager Tom Garcia.
She recalled: “Mr Conyers was a very serious MD. Every morning he called his managers for performance figures and you needed to be ready for his call. He achieved circulation sales of over 100,000 daily with the assistance of Tom Garcia and a team of key managers—Dennis Cummings, Advertising Manager and John Haynes, Pressroom Manager."
Mohammed said she has fond memories of Conyers greeting his staff on mornings and when he met them on the plant.
Francis Joseph, head of Corporate Communications at the T&T Police Service, who worked as a crime reporter at the T&T Guardian for more than three decades, described Conyers as "a guiding light" who had a keen interest in the newsroom.
"He was particularly interested in the crime beat," said Joseph.
He said it was Conyers, a sports lover, who sparked his interest in horseracing and they had many pleasant interactions on race days back when the Queen's Park Savannah was a venue for the sport.
"He was very good to work with," Joseph said.
Conyers was married to Daphne Patricia Huggins for 57 years until her death in January 2008 and is survived by their four children–Michelle, Michael, Anne Marie and Gerard.