Evangelia Katri, one of Melbourne’s oldest Greeks who dedicated a significant part of her life to volunteer service for the community, passed away on Sunday at the age of 104.
Her son, Nicholas Katris, a well-known member of the Greek community and former president of PRONIA, confirmed the news to Neos Kosmos.
Born in Heraklion, she grew up in Alexandria with her mother and older sister. In 1954, she migrated to Australia. She was only nine months old when her father left, and at the age of nine, her mother passed away. In Melbourne, she devoted a portion of her life to serving the community.
Four years ago, when she celebrated her 100th birthday, Neos Kosmos had written, among other things: ‘The multifaceted contribution of the Katri family to charitable organisations is centered around Evangelia Katri, who, for almost five decades, volunteered her services to various community organisations. Her involvement in the early nursing homes and geriatrics of the Greek community in Melbourne, such as “Stegi,” especially in the early stages of the nursing home, holds a special place in her long-standing contribution.’
“My father left us when I was nine months old, and my mother decided to migrate to Alexandria, where she had a sister,” Evangelia Katri told Neos Kosmos at the time, without hiding the complaint and sadness that she grew up without a father. However, life had more sorrows in store for her. She lost her mother at the age of nine and remained an orphan, with her eighteen-year-old sister being her only family. Her sister raised her with the help of relatives. She completed the Averoff School in Alexandria and married at the age of 20. In 1954, she became an immigrant for the second time, coming to Australia with her family and in-laws.
“The family doesn’t make it here if the woman doesn’t work,” was Evangelia Katri’s first thought when she began to get to know Australia. She was also impressed that most houses were made of wood. “In Egypt, we had such houses by the sea,” she said, describing her first impressions of her new homeland.
At the first opportunity, she started working in factories to financially support the family. However, two years after their arrival in Australia, in 1956, her husband was seriously injured in a work accident. For the next six years, it was her income that supported the family. She continued to work even when her husband returned to work because “the children had to be educated,” and life was not easy for immigrants.
Reflecting on a century of life, especially her years as a Greek immigrant in Australia, Evangelia Katri struggled to separate her contribution to others from her responsibilities as a wife, mother, and working woman. The fact that she knew five languages, including the Cypriot dialect, combined with her high level of education, compared to most immigrants of that time, made her popular among organisations and services that interacted with immigrants. She offered whatever she could. She attributed her longevity precisely to this contribution, although she insisted that there is no secret to longevity.
“Give to those who don’t have and to those who have less than you,” Evangelia Katri used to say, a core belief she led her entire life with and a phrase she would like to be remembered by.
*With information supplied by PRONIA.