This Thursday was a sad day for the family and friends of the late Bill Gonis, the late President of the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA) who passed away suddenly, aged 62.

Gonis’ funeral was held at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Archangels Michael and Gabriel on Franklin Street at 10am and was attended by a large number of people including family, friends and members of GOCSA who gathered to farewell Mr Gonis and show their support to his wife Christina, and children, Betty and Peter.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas attended the church service together with Minister Tom Koutsantonis and federal MP Steve Georganas. MLC Connie Bonnaros also attended, as did the President of SA Multicultural Affairs Commission, Adrianna Christopoulos. Prominent SA businessman and former GOCSA president Theo Maras also came to the funeral.

“Bill Gonis was a great South Australian and a proud Australian that made the community proud. He was always willing to offer his help and support,” Premier Malinauskas said.

Gonis’ daughter, Betty, said: “Our father was loved and respected by so many people and we can see this today having all you of here to say farewell. … This is the hardest day of my life.

“He was patient, kind and hard working. He didn’t judge anyone and accepted everyone for who they were. He practiced forgiveness and tried to do the right thing even when people did wrong by him. He was loyal and protective. He loved his family and we shared a special bond.”

His son, Peter, said he found solace in the fact that Bill  Gonis had the chance to hold his grandson before he passed away.

“Ten years ago, my father underwent an 11-hour heart surgery. He survived. He wasn’t going to be defeated. He gifted us with his presence and he was perfect in every way. We knew he wasn’t going to be here forever,” said Mr Gonis.

“The final piece of dad’s puzzle dropped a couple months ago. He was so excited and so proud of us all. His grandson, Vasili, who was named after him, was born only a few days before dad passed away. It gives me comfort to know that he got to meet him.”