Two weeks ago, we lost our much-loved friend Con Hagi. It’s heart breaking and difficult to comprehend his passing. Hagi was quick-witted, joyously irreverent, high-spirited and occasionally stubborn, but above all, he was a loyal and loving friend. Con Hagi was born in Melbourne on Greece’s National Day, 28th October 1956, his parents immigrated to Australia from Lemnos.
He went to Princes Hill High School and cherished the memories of growing up in Bourke Street, in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. Con would often speak glowingly about his parents, reflecting on his father’s mantra of ‘having the utmost respect for others’ and reminiscing about his mother’s signature ‘kolokithopita’.
Hagi was completing his real estate degree when I met him in early 1980, and he was eager to introduce me to the ‘world of NUGAS’. ‘The Bagasa’, having ‘been around the block’ a few times, thrust me into an RMIT Greek Club meeting – I walked out as a NUGAS Representative and it changed my life forever. It was thecommencement of a journey, a fun filled ‘road trip’ with Hagi that so many of us have shared, and that we had hoped would go on forever.
During our University days, we built friendships that lasted a life-time. Con transcended so many eras of NUGAS, we could never keep up – whilst he had partied with his contemporaries in the late 70s and 80’s, he was still holding court in the 90’s and 2000’s with a generation who cherished his joy of life and his vitality.
Once asked about how he maintained his dizzying stamina, he said, I “just keep on going and going” like that (Energizer) Bunny!NUGAS events were the pinnacle of our calendar, that culminated in the annual peripatetic NUGAS Conventions where Con was ‘King’; where madness and frivolity were the order of the day. Weekly NUGAS events at Madison’s were a highlight; after we’d go to the Mecca of late-night suppers ‘Meggs’, where Hagi was in his element. Recently described, as the ‘nightclubbing Greek Peter Pan’, his entrance was akin to that of a movie star.
The unbridled joy that he spread underscored his love of seeing friends enjoying themselves. Hagi was an outstanding auctioneer, he went ‘over and above’ for his clients – he knew all the tricks and as a buyer’s advocate he would use his skills to his clients’ advantage.
His successful tactics were comical, loud and often outrageous. Con was extremely generous with his time, from Charity Auctions using his beloved timber gavel and bell, to becoming a 2006 Commonwealth Games Volunteer. Con lived life on his own terms, and our regular interactions would lift his spirits, particularly after his mother’s death in 2008. In recent years, health challenges, may have slowed him down a little, but never for too long – “that was the Haj.”
Tragically medical complications cut Con’s life short. He’s left a space, which we seek to fill with the memories of his luminescence – that spontaneous Hagi light that always made life better.
This Monday November 21, we gather together again to celebrate his life. His friends and NUGAS family will travel from far and wide, to reflect on the love we shared for him; to revel in his happiness and pride; to cherish, the joy and laughter he knew he bought to our lives; to reminisce the times we jumped around and belted out Franki Valli and the Four Season’s, I love you baby.
Rest in peace Costa. Our deepest condolences to Con’s family and friends across Australia, who have been wrapped in grief over the last few weeks.