The Greek community in Melbourne, particularly those hailing from Karditsa, is grieving the loss of another iconic personality, 86-year-old George Katsis.
He embarked on his “eternal journey” on Thursday, November 16, to reunite with his life partner, Panagioula, who had departed earlier, a loss he struggled to accept as he visited her grave daily.
“I’m getting on the plane to see Mom,” he told his daughter during his passionate monologue in his final days in the hospital.
It is challenging for me to mourn the loss of someone so dear because I want to remember him always lively, smiling, kind, and active, as he had accustomed us.
“I’m not afraid; whatever it is, I’ll fight it,” he had told me a few weeks ago when he called to share that they had found ‘something.’ I am losing a person who stood by me as a second father in Australia; their home was always open to me and a point of reference.
George Katsis, characterised as the “embodiment of volunteering and contribution” by those who knew him, was always willing to help anyone in need—known or unknown, immigrants, people facing difficulties. He had his unique way of always being close to the youth and bridging the gap.
Born in Thrapshimi, a mountainous village in Karditsa, in 1937, his life stories trace back to the German Occupation of the village he cherished. He couldn’t continue his studies beyond the Gymnasium, despite his love for literature.
However, with his other great love, his wife, Youla, they boarded a ship in 1970 destined for Australia, along with their six-year-old son Dimitris, and Kiki who was “in the belly”.
They settled in Oakleigh, where they lived their entire lives. Alongside fellow compatriots, they formed close-knit bonds, friendships, relationships of mutual aid and support, and continued on this path until their old age.
Even though the initial plan, like that of most immigrants at the time, was for five years, they put down roots and saw their children and grandchildren grow and prosper in their second homeland, Australia.
Active and militant in rallies, protests, and events, George Katsis once stated, “We lived well, the world appreciates us, and we help as much as we can.”
In a previous interview with Neos Kosmos, he spoke about his resemblance to Charles Bronson. As an active citizen and contributor, he served communities, cultural, and sports clubs. He served as the president of the Karditsa Association “O Karaiskakis,” and for his contribution, he was declared an Honorary President.
He participated in the first Parents and Guardians Association at Hughesdale Primary School, where half of the children were of Greek descent at the time.
He worked at Repco and for years in Melbourne’s heavy industry. He was an active member of the Greek Community in Oakleigh, always volunteering, from the foundation of the church to commissioner in recent years.
The last time he visited Greece was two years ago on a pilgrimage, ensuring to see and greet all his relatives and dear friends.
We were fortunate to have known him up close, and may his contribution and approach to life serve as an example for all of us. His kindness will endure! Let us remember him always with love.
His funeral will take place on Wednesday, November 22, at 10:00 am at the Holy Temple of Agioi Anargyroi in Oakleigh.