Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3219..
Motion (by Mr Corbell ) proposed:
Death of Mr Vince Kalokerinos
MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (5.37): Mr Speaker, I wish to bring to the attention of members and, indeed, the entire Canberra community the passing of Vince Kalokerinos, better known to most people as the king of Curtin. Vince, for 32 years, was the proprietor of the Curtin milk bar and he died suddenly on Saturday morning of a heart condition. He leaves with us his wife, Viola; his son, John; and his twins, Matthew and Cathy. He was brother and brother-in-law of Paul, Helen, Jim, Maria, Cathy and Chris and he was a much loved uncle and friend to many.
Vince was one of the unique Canberrans who are often overlooked when we do condolence motions. We seem to concentrate on people supposedly of great stature-and I do not say that in a derogatory way-but Vince's story in many ways is the story of migrants to Australia and the story of many Canberrans. Vince was born in 1939 on the Isle of Kythera in Greece and came to Australia in 1962, where he joined his brothers, who ran, of all things, a coffee shop in Manilla, which is near Tamworth in northern New South Wales.
In 1971 he lashed out and purchased the Curtin milk bar and was to reside there in Curtin and run the milk bar for the next 32 years. In 1975 he returned to Kythera to pick up his childhood sweetheart, Viola, who was only 12 when he left his native Greece. She tells me that he had memories of her long braids. He went back and married his childhood sweetheart and brought her back to Curtin to make their home, and they had three children there.
Vince was such an icon in Curtin that, when we refurbished the Curtin shops in 2001, if my memory is correct, the only thing that we could get consistent agreement on out of the entire Curtin community was that there had to be a plaque in the refurbishment in honour of Vince. I do not think anything like that has been done since in one of our refurbishments, but on one of the pieces of street furniture as you walk out the front door of the Curtin milk bar there is a plaque in honour of Vince Kalokerinos from the people of Curtin, who saw this man as so important to the Curtin shops and so important to the community that they wanted to honour him in that way. I think that speaks volumes for the man.
Vince was famous for his bags of mixed lollies and his vanilla malted thickshakes. He made a fabulous pizza and must have served millions of cups of coffee over the 32 years that he was there in Curtin.
I think that people will miss the underlying generosity of the man. I do not believe I ever heard him have a harsh word for anyone. I know that in times when individuals or the community needed his assistance he was always there. During the bushfires of January this year, Vince was making coffee and sandwiches available for volunteers. I think that was fabulous.