Peter Mangos was the earliest, and possibly the first, Australian-born Greek to be admitted as a Fellow of the College of Surgeons. Peter’s father arrived in Australia (I think in 1908) from Kastellorizo and Peter grew up in Windsor working in the family cafe in Chapel Street. He went to Melbourne High School and the University of Melbourne and graduated in medicine in 1955. He then furthered his studies in England obtaining his specialist qualification as a surgeon.
In Melbourne he practised as a surgeon from his practice in Collins Street and was a key provider of surgical services to the Greek community in Melbourne. In 1966 he went to Vietnam as part of the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and at his burial he was commemorated by the Hellenic branch of the RSL’s Steve Kyritsis. Peter also was involved in a clinic treating workers from various factories, which was the clinic that included my late brother Tom and myself.
He is remembered as a true gentleman and accomplished surgeon who was proud of his Greek heritage.
Dad was always one to tell you what he thought, be it family, friends, or complete strangers, he would share his thoughts and advice and be extremely stubborn in his point of view. The vast majority of times he was right, which was often infuriating, especially to random strangers who got an earful about something they were doing.
Dad was passionate and driven when it came to both his family and profession, and that determination helped him through medical school, studying in England and serving in Vietnam as a volunteer doctor.
It also helped him raise five boys, who weren’t always angels – but his commitment to family was never wavering. He enjoyed over 40 years of marriage and being a loving grandfather to eight (soon to be nine) grandchildren – a role he relished with magic tricks, jokes, and stories.
He was an accomplished surgeon, practising for over 50 years at a range of hospitals around Melbourne; as the team doctor for South Melbourne/Sydney Swans for 20 years, as well as his rooms in Collins Street, and occasionally on the dining room table at Armadale. I know he has treated and sewn up many of the people in this room today.
Dad always told me that Mangos meant well-dressed gentleman. I’m still not sure if that’s true, but it’s something he definitely lived by. He was most comfortable in a full suit and tie, surrounded by family and friends, or helping people as a doctor – which along with the Swans, the game of billiards and real estate was his lifelong passion. You could drive down almost any street in Melbourne, and he had previously owned or nearly bought a property there – and in hindsight he really should have.
He had very particular tastes: tea always must come from a teapot, oysters must be Sydney rock (and he ate a dozen a week and shucked them himself), and the table must have a tablecloth. And every night he enjoyed his one daily cigarette over a cup of tea. He delighted in good food with a beer, and was quick to point out when it wasn’t up to scratch.
Dad had a deep love of history, language and of course medicine. And he possessed a hunger for knowledge that was nothing short of amazing. He never stopped learning new things, and had a knack for recalling facts and information on any topic.
I recently tested this out while watching the footy with him on a Sunday afternoon. I researched the height of the Greek and Persian Empire (which was a favourite of his), and casually weaved it into conversation thinking I was clever. Turns out I got most of the facts wrong, which Dad was quick to point out with correct names and dates. It was mind blowing.
He taught me many things: strong family values, loyalty and respect, the value of knowledge, a love of language, and a strong work ethic to name just a few, and I will always be thankful for that.
He lived a long, successful and fulfilling life building an amazing family and career. and even managed to see the Swans finally win a flag. He was always quick to share a joke and a smile, and loved nothing more than a chat – about any topic.
He will be remembered as a man of principle, always willing to help with action or advice, usually dressed in a sharp suit.