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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 October 2015
NEWS 4 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 OCTOBER 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Vale Andrew Varigos Pioneering GP passes away MICHAEL SWEET Andrew John Varigos, the Melbourne doctor who cared for three generations of patients, died in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Cabrini Private Hospital. With his passing ends one of the most remarkable chapters in the history of the Greek Australian community in Victoria. Andrew was born in South Melbourne on 5 March 1915. One of seven children, Andrew's parents John Varvarigos and Giannoula Lekatsas migrated from Ithaca in 1914. As an infant he grew up in their Park Street home near St Kilda Road, before the family moved to Bourke Street in 1920 where his father ran a cafe and shop. “He had a selfeffacing integrity and chose to treat all he met as he would wish to be treated, a characteristic that made him such a valued member of the medical profession.” From an early age his parents instilled in their son the importance of learning, equipping him with the tools to prosper in their adopted country. His father emphasised the importance of Latin in his studies, and for the only boy of Greek heritage at Melbourne High School, the use of the Greek language at home was strictly encouraged. As a teenager Andrew witnessed the effects of the Great Depression and with widespread unemployment his mother took in boarders to make ends meet. One, from Cephalonia, gained employment at the Victoria Markets and offered Andrew his first job at the age of 15. Respite from the long hours came on Saturdays, when Andrew would knock off in time to get to see his beloved South Melbourne football team play in Albert Park. By the age of 22, apprenticed to Harlem and Harlem Chemists, Andrew began four years of pharmacy studies at Pharmacy College in Melbourne. At 26 he had passed his pharmacy exams with some of the highest results ever achieved. Two years later he married Chrissie Karpouzis, ten years his junior. The war years would see Andrew work in Box Hill before opening his first pharmacy business of his own in Camberwell. By the end of 1946 Chrissie and Andrew had been blessed by two sons - John and George. In the late 1940s he opened the first Andrews Drug Store in Elizabeth Street, soon adding a second store under the same name in Collins Street. Comprising dispensing counters, a soda bar, cosmetics, perfumery section and camera shop, the stores were a revolutionary concept for the time. Despite more than a decade of success as a high street pharmacist, he yearned for a deeper connection to healing and healthcare. At the age of 40 (and now a father of three, following the birth of his daughter Euahna), he enrolled to study medicine at the University of Melbourne. Six years later, he gained his MBBS degree and completed his residency at Box Hill Hospital before opening his own surgery at 141 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy. It was 1963 and it would be the address from which he would practice for the next nearly 50 years, virtually until his retirement at the remarkable age of 95. In the early years he was virtually the only Greek-speaking doctor Melburnians could turn to. The abiding memory of those who sought his advice is of the amount of time he spent with them, not only discussing their diagnosis and treatment, but their everyday experiences. Under his care a community shared its fears and its hopes. Family friend and cardiologist Manny Manolas, who worked with Andrew in the 1980s, said the GP developed an extraordinary relationship with his patients. "They'd grown up with him over 30 or 40 years. He wasn't just a doctor, he was a social worker for the Greek community." Ζητήσεις Positions Vacant CHEF & WAITER full time and part time, who can speak greek, for the BLUE FIG Restaurant, 7 SHAKESPEARE GROVE ST. KILDA, ΤΗΛ. 9534 5553. "He was always reading between the lines and listening to his patients, and money was never the issue. He always had time for people." Dr Euahna Varigos, Andrew's daughter, told Neos Kosmos: "He was a gentle, humble, loving and caring husband, father, and grandfather. He inspired all his children to excel in Andrew Varigos at his 100th birthday celebration in March. Varigos generations: Andrew beside his daughter Euhana and wife Chrissie and his extended family earlier this year. their chosen career and instilled the highest of family values and morals. "He had a self-effacing integrity and chose to treat all he met as he would wish to be treated, a characteristic that made him such a valued member of the medical profession. He was enormously proud of his children's and grandchildren's achievements and has created an everlasting legacy, one that will live on through all of his family. I will miss him greatly but he will forever be with me." Tributes paid to the late centenarian include those from state and federal parliamentarians. Victorian minister Jenny Mikakos described Dr Varigos as a trailblazer. "Across a career in medicine that spanned 80 years he touched the lives of many. He has left a shining example for all of us. His life will be celebrated and missed - our thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with his family at this time". Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou said Dr Varigos had a special place in the pages of the Hellenic Australian migrant story. "As a pioneering doctor he will be remembered as one of the first of what is now a large number of Greek Australians entering the medical profession. He and the many other pioneers of his generation led the way for the rest of us; a century of valuable history is gone but never to be forgotten." Bill Papasetrgiadis, president of the Greek Community of Melbourne, said Dr Varigos' contribution to the welfare of Greeks in Melbourne could not be underestimated. "He showed enormous empathy towards his patients. He practised until his nineties and continued to visit, at that age, his patients at their homes. A remarkable man who will be missed." Andrew Varigos' funeral takes place at 11.00 am on Wednesday 14 October at Saint Eustathios Greek Orthodox church, Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. RIP Dr Andrew Varigos. Born 5 March 1915, died 6 October 2015.
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