It is with the deepest sense of loss and achingly heavy hearts that we farewell Maria Barbayannis, a truly magnificent and extraordinary woman who was taken from us so very suddenly and much, much too soon.

Maria is survived by her loving and devoted husband, Michael, their two children Andrew and Georgia, and four adoring grandchildren, with a fifth on the way. Maria is also survived by her parents, Chloe and George, and her siblings Lina and Eric. Maria survived her third child, John, who passed away in 1996.

She was immensely proud of her family and dedicated herself to making our lives as enriched and joyful as possible. She was an unwavering source of love, inspiration and support: our “everything”.

She was ever positive, upbeat and energetic, yet so calm, patient and poised. She danced, laughed, loved, remembered and made every moment count. Her eyes sparkled and her smile would light up your heart. She had the most wonderful sense of humour and her self-deprecating manner was as charming as it was disarming. She was always able to have a laugh at herself and tell a good story. She made it so easy to love her.

We simply cannot put into words how much she will be missed.

The Barbayannis Family would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to our extended families, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers, from whom we have drawn strength at this soul-destroying time. There is no way of making sense of this devastating tragedy, and words and gestures offering comfort and help have meant a lot to us.

Maria made the world a better place when she was in it, through her genuine care for others and unconditional kindness, and the world will continue to be a better place despite her passing, because she had the most wonderful way with people and left a lasting, meaningful impact on every single person she spoke with, listened to, and shared a piece of herself with. Each and every one of us will feel an overwhelming responsibility to maintain her legacy by trying to do as she did, and by trying to be as she was.

She was an incredibly loving, tolerant, selfless, hard-working and accomplished person who carried herself with grace and humility, and who made everybody feel welcome, valued, included and special. Her engaging presence was the greatest of gifts. She had an endless capacity and respect for life, making a point of never taking anyone or anything for granted. She was a lady, in every sense of the word, who was effortlessly elegant, yet modest and unspoiled by her successes.

Maria was a highly competent, trailblazing family lawyer who gave so much of herself to her work and her profession. She served her clients and the Court with her unparalleled work ethic and respectful manner. She was a formidable opponent, pursing each client’s case with intelligent vigour and practical insight. She was a tough negotiator, clever thinker and an astute problem solver. Her gentle nature, sincere optimism and professionalism made her a pleasure to be opposed to. She made a fine career for herself in the law, forging a reputation that will long be remembered, and she leaves behind a successful family practice.

In addition to her family, friends and her work, Maria’s other two loves were her tennis and the Geelong Football Club. She played competitively twice a week and thrived on being active. In the comfort of her home every weekend during the AFL season, Maria watched her beloved Cats play; this was one of the few ways she took time out to unwind and relax.

Maria was resilient and stoic at times when she could easily have indulged in defeat, and it is with the utmost respect of her remarkable ability to carry on when her own future happiness looked bleak that we must find the courage to honour her memory and now do the same.

Maria’s funeral will take place on Friday, 29 November 2019 at St Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in Templestowe at 11.00 a.m.

We invite all to attend, however, please note that no condolences will be accepted at the church. The burial will be for immediate family only.

All will then be welcome to join us in reflecting upon and celebrating Maria’s life at Carousel, Albert Park from 2.30 pm. A drink with friends overlooking the lake, reminiscing about the good times, is something Maria would have enjoyed.

The Barbayannis Family