VENERIS

Family and friends of the late Mr George Veneris are informed that his funeral service will take place at the Greek Orthodox Church, 378 Olive St Albury on Monday 14th January 2019 commencing at 10:00am. At the conclusion of the service, the cortege will leave for the Waugh Rd Cemetery, Albury.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the Albury Greek Orthodox Church. Envelopes available at the Church.

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  1. James Veneris  January 16, 2019

    A EULOGY FOR GEORGE VENERIS
    By James Veneris

    Delivered at the hall of the Greek Orthodox Community of Albury and District on Monday, 14th January 2019.

    Thank you all for coming.

    We have gathered today in the eyes of God to say farewell and to mourn the loss of a man who was perhaps small in his physical stature, but who grew in his status and reputation to become a colossus within our small community.
    A man who clearly stood-out amongst us as a unique human being and who has left behind an indelible mark on us all, through the influence and impact of his long-time leadership and his tireless work over many years that will forever become engrained as his enduring legacy for us all.

    And so today is a sad day. It’s a sad day for my immediate family, it is a sad day for my extended family, it is a sad day for our church, it is a sad day for our small and close-knit Greek Community, and it is also a sad day for our wider community and our town that also knew him so well. We have all lost a man who has in his own unique, unassuming and selfless way, transcended each of these institutions – family, church, community and city.
    So it is with a feeling of great privilege and a great deal of personal pride that I can stand before you all here today together with my immediate and extended family members, shrouded in grief as we are, and say that this man was George Veneris – he was a Christian man, and he was my father.

    My father was a devout Christian. He was a man of the faith. He was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection. He was a dedicated student and a follower of the teachings of his Christian Orthodoxy. And he spent much of his life especially from his middle years and onwards living according to the tenets of his faith and his beliefs. And no doubt he drew upon his unquestionable faith towards his final days that were so painful for our family.

    And he spread his message amongst us like one of God’s foot-soldiers in his own precious and incomparable way. He led by example. He showed us how it’s done. There was no ego, just humility. There was no agenda, just diplomacy, there was no anger, just friendliness, there was no aggression, just a smile, there was no greed, just generosity, there was no pretence, just honesty, there was no hatred, just humanity, and there were no conditions or expectations, there was just a life full of giving.

    But these few words of mine are tainted by my personal feelings and emotions so allow me please to pass on to you some of the more reasoned and unbiased words that have been said about my father by some of the people here today and others who could not be here – words spoken about my father when they first found out about his terrible illness;

    1. A beautiful man – ένας όμορφος άνθρωπος
    2. The best human being, the best human being – ο καλύτερος άνθρωπος, ο καλύτερος άνθρωπος,
    3. A saintly man – ένας άγιος άνθρωπος
    4. This world needs more people like George – ο κόσμος χρειάζεται περισσότερους ανθρώπους σαν το Γεώργιο

    My father was also a man for all seasons, both the good and the bad. In the good times he enjoyed a good laugh, a social drink, a good conversation or as we Greeks would say he loved his PAREA. And he especially enjoyed his PAREA with all his family and his in-laws Spiro and Annette and their families each Easter and Christmas season when we all came together to celebrate.

    He also loved his garden and he loved his football. He would often change his allegiance for the football team that he was following, choosing always to go with the underdog or the battler. And when that team became successful, he would move on to the next underdog team to follow. This is just one small anecdote that exemplifies his character and personality. My father was a philanthropic man, and he always loved the battler. He also loved the younger members of our community – or as he would call them – the neolea – οι νέολεα

    In the bad times, my father was the one person who our people mostly turned to in their hour of need. And he was always there, day or night, to offer his reassurance and guidance and to try to help them find a way out of their difficulties or out of their darkness. One of the darkest days that I can recall for our family was upon the death of my 19-year-old cousin Petro in 1975. On hearing of the news, I remember that my father immediately put us in the car and drove us straight to Wangaratta so that we could be there. And he did this sort of thing for countless other people throughout his life – not just his family. My Dad was always the go-to man within our local community and the number of people that he helped on an individual level in this selfless and caring way are just too numerous to mention.

    Dad was born on the Greek Island of Kythera on 04/02/1935. He was born in the small village of Geriakianika that is situated half way up the mountain on which the imposing monastery of Agia Elesa or Saint Elesa majestically stands at its peak with its elevated and sweeping views across the Mediterranean Sea. If God chose Dad’s birthplace, then Dad was born under the gaze and in the shadow of Agia Elesa, the saint who first introduced Christianity to the island and who is today regarded as a saint protector of the island. Dad was a protector too.
    In the beginning my father was a devoted and caring son to his mother Stamatina Veneris (nee Fatseas) growing up as he did on either side of WWII on his small and impoverished Mediterranean island. Whilst the conditions in Kythera may not have been as difficult as in other parts of Greece around the war time years, they were still not easy times for her people. This was made worse for the family by the absence of my dad’s father, Dimitris Veneris who had come to Australia in 1937 shortly prior to the outbreak of war when dad was only 2 years old. He would not see his father again until his father brought the whole family out to in Australia in 1948 when Dad was by now 13 years old.

    After arriving in Australia Dad attended the Albury Grammar School for one year (now Scots School). He even played in the Grammar School soccer team during that year. But the hard times and the toil of the family café business beckoned him, and so Dad had to leave school and start work at his father’s shops in Dean Street which started out with the Spot Café and the Capital Café. These were then followed by the Riverina Café that his father Dimitri had purchased from his compatriot Myron Andronicos. My father worked in the Riverina Café from the mid-1950’s to the late 1970’s in a close partnership with his elder brother John Veneris and wife Georgia, with whom he has enjoyed a seamless lifelong personal and business partnership. The financial partnership with his elder brother has continued uninterrupted right up until this very day.

    It was during the early years of the Riverina Café that dad, together his brother John, took-in under their wing, a new arrival from Kythera. A young cousin who was also called John Veneris. And in order to distinguish him from Dad’s older brother, our new cousin John was affectionately nick-named by my brother and I as “Tsirigoti”. With no direct family here in Australia, cousin John Veneris has often spoken of Dad as not only being his cousin, but also his father, his brother, his friend and his mentor all at the same time. And Dad took on these different roles for many other people in this same sort of way.

    They say that behind every great man there is a great woman but in my Dad’s case there was a woman who has instead stood right next to him and with him as a loyal and devoted wife for over 61 years. And he had known this woman over 70 years. My father could not have achieved all that he did throughout his life without the influence and guidance of my mother by his side. She was his go-to person. At age 22 years Dad married Stamatina Travassaros who was then aged 19 years at St Matthews Church, Albury on 08/09/1957. The result is three children, myself Dimitri, my brother Petro and my sister Koula and four exemplary grandchildren George, Lucas, Sara and Elesa. Dad deeply loved his grandchildren and he was immensely proud of them. In his later life he was happily able to sit back and watch them take up their respective paths in life and he always looked forward to their visits when they came to Albury.

    My father was also fortunate in his life to have had some help from one of God’s angels on this earth. And that angel was my sister Koula. She cared for him at home on a daily basis in his later life, but most importantly along with my mother, my sister Koula was his primary carer right up until his very last day. My father’s wish was to pass away peacefully at home and it was my sister who mostly made this wish possible as she constantly nursed him day and night. Dad’s angel rarely left his bedside.

    In terms of his achievements, Dad sat on the committees of the Greek Orthodox Church for over 60 years, and indeed a photo of a Greek Orthodox Committee meeting taken in the early 1950’s, that I have seen, shows a very young, innocent and fresh-faced George Veneris sitting at the table. He was vice-president for several years and president for too many years to remember. There would not be too many baptisms, weddings and funerals that Dad did not help to coordinate in this church over the past 30 to 40 years. My father was a Life Member of the Greek Community and in 2005 he was given an award by the Lieutenant Governor of Victoria from the Victorian Multicultural Commission for his services to local migrant communities. And as part of the 1988 bi-centennial visit to Albury by Queen Elizabeth II, Dad and mum were invited with other local community leaders to dine with the Queen of England. Dad was also a very good and respected friend of the Greek Communities of Wangaratta, Wagga Wagga and Shepparton and he regularly attended their churches and functions.

    Towards the end, God rewarded my father for his lifetime of service as a foot-soldier and a life well lived. Last year he was fortunate to have been able to return to his village in Kythera for what was only his fourth trip back to the island since coming to Australia in 1948. The first trip in 1972 was made to bring back with him his dying father. On this last trip last year, he was able to live in the family home for over 3-months and he was joined there by his wife and all his children and grandchildren. My cousin Jim from Sydney was also there, and he had beautifully restored and extended the family home and Dad was comfortable and happy in his plush new surroundings at Gerakianika.
    This trip also coincided with trips taken by his cousin Koula Andronicos and her husband Steve whose family home at Klaradika was in the next village directly opposite our own, and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law Katina and George Vlandis from the nearby village of Kalokerines. They all had a great time together. This was the first time that my mother and her sister had been on the island together since their departure as young teenagers in 1948. So Dad called it the trip of a lifetime as he began to reminisce about his youthful days with each of his glowing grandchildren and as he also made the usual trek each morning up the mountain road to the monastery of Agia Elesa. His cousin George Cominos who lived nearby and with whom he would meet up at the monastery every day called my Dad’s last trip to Greece with all his family as “the greatest gift” – το μεγαλύτερο δώρο.

    So now it’s time to say goodbye. Goodbye Dad, until we meet again, forever in my heart, I will miss you. We will all miss you. Everyone here will always miss you. This place will never be the same again. It was during one of those dark moments shortly prior to my Dad’s passing that my mother noticed the look on my face and the tears that were coming out of my eyes. And so she came over to me and said “don’t be sad, for how long has he been your father”. At first, I shrugged my shoulders in my usual way. But knowing me as she does, she repeated her question once again. For how long was he your father. So, I then replied “60 years”. “Ok then”, she said, “he was your father for 60 years but there are many people who don’t have a father for 60 years, they may only have a father for 5 years or they may not have a father at all. And there are many more who don’t have a father who was like your father. But you had your father for 60 years. So, don’t be sad, because you have not lost him, and that is because you never had him – he never belonged to you. He was only on loan to you. Your father always belonged to God”.

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  2. Nick and Olympia Andronicos  January 19, 2019

    What a beautiful and heart felt Eulogy Douglas. We were extremely lucky to be part of that last trip to Kythera which we will treasure the memories for ever but we have so many more special moments that our families have shared and those as young teenagers downstairs where we would ran a muck and your Dad would put up with our behaviour! We were all so blessed to have him in our lives and are better people because of the guidance and patience he showed us.
    Nicko and Olympia
    Xxx

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