Eulogy: Rose Roy 1920-1912
by her son Nick
12 February 1920- 23 December 2012
Mum the Person
Although the tyrannies of distance was an issue, Mum’s primary focus was always on family. Mum kept abreast of the activities of her grandchildren Nicholas, Luke, Elizabeth, Madeline and Olivia and great grandson Jordan, and Maurie’s grandchildren and great grandchildren together with the nieces and nephews of her brothers and sister.
In addition to family, Mum had a wonderful circle of friends, and many of those are here with us today. Mum loved to celebrate, particularly on birthdays of family and friends and each usually received a gift of Mum’s home made cumquat jam, rum balls and Greek shortbread on those occasions. Mum also crocheted dozens of throw over rugs which many of you received as gifts as well.
Mum had a signature chicken and spaghetti dish recipe which was even served to Prince Charles as a young adult when visiting Cairns, and staying with Sir Syd and Lady Joy Williams.
Over the years Mum received regular visits and contacts from people who had worked for her in her hotels, which spoke volumes for Mum’s interest and care for people who were employed by her. Even the day after Mum passed away, former employee Iris Northage called in to see Mum at Mary Potter Nursing Home only to learn that Mum had passed away the previous day. Iris was not that much younger than Mum but still called on her regularly.
With respect to Mum’s many friends, her family would particularly like to acknowledge the wonderful support in recent years provided by Jean Moule’s family, especially Patrice, Leon and Yvonne who made regular visits to her home (usually on their days off on weekends) to see that she and Maurie were coping ok.
The family would also like to acknowledge Peter Forness for his support, particularly to Maurie. Their lunches out together each Tuesday were a highlight of Maurie’s week. Peter’s late wife Joan was a close friend of Mum’s.
Jan and Eddie Graham were also a great support to Mum and Maurie during their 12 years in Cairns with NQEA. Jan often took Mum to do the weekly shopping and Jan said that Mum filled the void in her life following the loss of her own mother, which Jan very much appreciated. Jan also enjoyed Mum’s sense of humour.
Also a special family thanks to Ut and Beh who arrived in Cairns as refugees from Vietnam over 30 years ago. Ut met Mum through the Cannon family and helped out in the house on a weekly basis. Their friendship grew and Ut and Beh effectively adopted Mum and Maurie as their own parents as they had no family support in Australia. Ut kept vigil at Mum’s bedside on a regular basis during her 3 year stay in Mary Potter Nursing Home. I also add the Hayward family with respect to the wonderful support they gave Mum while she was in Mary Potter Nursing home.
Mum was a loving wife, mother, grandmother,great-grandmother, aunt, and sister, and a wonderful friend to many , including all gathered here today.
Mum always spoke her mind, and you were never going to go away wondering what she was thinking. If she disagreed with something put forward her favourite response was that “there will be two Sundays in that week “before that could happen.
With her sharp intellect and empathy for people, Mum would have relished the chance of an education in today’s world. Mum often said she would have liked to have been a surgeon and if her filleting of fish was anything to go by, she would have made a very good surgeon.
Mum was content with her life and never complained of her condition, even though she was fairly restricted physically in recent years. Mum would always say “I eat well, I sleep well and I’m well looked after – go and enjoy yourselves and look after one another.” Mum never lost her sense of humor and enjoyed a good belly laugh with people like Ron Bannah, right up until her last days.
In closing, thank you all for attending today to say farewell to Mum. Thank you to the Mary Potter staff who cared for Mum during her time with them, and thanks also to my partner Heather, who has been a wonderful support to me with Mum during her time at Mary Potter.
RIP Mum, we all loved you very much.
Mum was born on the 12th February 1920 in Townsville, the second child and eldest daughter of Helen (Pandelakis) and Nicholas Bogiatzis, and was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church. Mum passed away on 23 December 2012 at the Cairns Base Hospital-just six weeks short of her 93rd birthday.
Due to World War 1 devastation, Mum’s parents emigrated from the Greek Island of Kastellorizo (east of Rhodes Island) arriving in Darwin in October 1918. Mum’s elder brother Michael (Mick) was born in Darwin soon after their arrival in December of that year. Mum’s parents moved from Darwin to Townsville in 1919 where Mum and two further siblings , Mary and Con , were born. All her siblings have pre-deceased Mum.
In the 1920s Mum’s parents set up the first steam laundry and dry cleaning service in Townsville and Mum joined the business on a full-time basis before completing primary school. Customers were offered a 24 hour service on the basis of clothes brought to the shop in the morning were ready in the afternoon; and clothes brought later in the day were ready next morning. To provide this service the family worked from 6am until midnight. It was all hands on deck during the depression for family businesses.
The family then expanded into the fruit and vegetable business eventually on their own freehold premises in Townsville’s main street, Flinders Street, with the business name of Sunshine Fruit Market.
In addition to primary school, Mum also attended Greek School after regular school hours, and other interests included tennis and choir lead singer. By school Year 5 Mum’s tennis skill enabled her to challenge the Year 8 team members with success.
Mum had a very good singing voice and could replicate Linda Rondstadt’s version of Blue Bayou which, of course, was an original recording done by Roy Orbison. I ended up buying the Roy Orbison version for Mum’s birthday in the early 1960s for 10 shillings and sixpence, which was a large sum from my pocket money in those pre-decimal currency days.
Although the depression years were tough for Australia, Mum’s family’s business continued to grow, and with the outbreak of World War 2 Mum took responsibility for the business with sister Mary, as both brothers were drafted into the Army, and her parents had very limited English speaking capability. Con served in the PNG campaign, while Mick returned from the Army to assist his sisters in the family business.
The US and Australian forces stationed in Townsville during the war ensured the family fruit and vegetable and smallgoods business continued to flourish, although it was hard work for the two sisters and their parents loading and unloading the family truck with fruit and vegetables purchased from the market and managing staff.
By the end of World War 2 Mum had a good background for business, and then met my father Stan Thorburn, who was a CIB detective transferred to North Queensland from Brisbane. They married on 9 April 1947 and Stan left the CIB when they decided to purchase their own hotel business.
After an unsuccessful offer on the Brisbane Hotel on the corner of Ann and Wharf Streets in the Brisbane CBD, they were successful with a subsequent offer made for the Oceanic Hotel on the Cairns Wharf Waterfront – it was welcome to the Barbary Coast and business commenced late in 1947.
The hotel business was very profitable with consumption of twenty-five 18 gallon kegs per week together with lodger accommodation revenue. I was born during their tenure at the Oceanic Hotel in late 1950. Unfortunately for Mum the extreme caesarian birth process with me meant that she was unable to bear any more children.
My parents decided to upgrade to bigger premises in 1951 and they purchased the Criterion Hotel in Abbott Street, and this site now houses the Cairns International-Pullman Hotel. Mum often said that had she stayed in the hotel business her next move would have been to acquire Hides Hotel in the middle of the CBD.
Mum opened the first hotel private bar in Cairns while at the Criterion Hotel, with the concept of restricting access to only business/professional people and their clients. Local Cairns lawyer, Bebe Mellick , mentioned to me recently that in those days Mum ran the best hotel in Cairns. Mum did not drink, but enjoyed a cigarette.
Unfortunately, Mum’s marriage to Stan ended while at the Criterion Hotel. However they remained good friends with Stan attending Mum’s 90th birthday in 2010. Mum continued on in the hotel until she met and married Maurie Roy in 1957. Mum then decided to sell the hotel and use the proceeds to build a home.
Mum provided wonderful support to Maurie who was left with three children- Bruce, George and Mandie -following the tragic loss of their mother to cancer. Mum also supported Maurie in his roles with Burns Philp, Lions and on the Cairns Amateur Racing Committee. Maurie pre-deceased Mum on 20 February 2010.
In her own right, Mum initiated fund raising activities for many years for the Red Cross, assisted by good friend Dorothy Cannon. Mum was also a member of the Queen Victoria League for many years.
Mum always wanted to travel, and in her mid fifties she made three separate trips to Eastern Europe, Greece and Asia. She particularly enjoyed the architecture in Russia and, of course, shopping in Asia, especially Hong Kong and Bangkok.