Antonio  Grisancich's Memorial

Antonio Grisancich
(1928 - 2010)

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General Details

Name: Mr Antonio Grisancich
Gender: Male
Age: 82 years old
Lived: Sunday, 15 January 1928 - Saturday, 10 April 2010

My Story


It is impossible for me to condense 82 years of my Dad’s life in a few minutes, but I will try to give you a glimpse of the great life my father lived.
Tony was born on 15 January, 1928 in Pirano, Italy.  His parents were Caterina & Antonio, sisters; Maria and Attilia, brothers; Santo and Giovanni. 
The family struggled through hard times and poverty.  He left school at the age of 13 and worked at the wharves in Pirano, where he gained an apprenticeship as a shipbuilder.  It was the beginning of a lifelong passion of working with his hands.  Sadly, Tony’s brother, Santo, died during the war.
After the war he met Santina Uderzo at a local dance in Buie, a small town in the province of Istria, eighteen kilometres away.  He rode his bicycle constantly to visit her while they were courting.   And many times came home late at night with only the light of the moon to guide him.  He was a determined young man.   They married in 1951.
On Good Friday in 1955, rather than live under communist rule as the province of Istria had been ceded to Yugoslavia, they left their native land and went over the border to Trieste, where in May, Fabio was born.  The fifteen months they spent at the refugee camp in Trieste was one of the most painful periods of Tony’s life.  Work, food and money were scarce, so it was a great relief when they received a letter informing them that their application to migrate to Australia had been granted.  The start of a new life.
In June 1956, they farewelled their family at the wharf in Trieste and set sail aboard La Toscana to a faraway land called Australia.  The voyage took 42 days. The young family arrived at Princess Pier in Melbourne in August, and were billeted to the migrant camp at Bonegila in New South Wales. 
During the time at Bonegila Tony kept busy looking for work and eventually worked on the Hume weir, which was part of the Snowy River scheme.  Whilst at the camp, a second son, George was born at Albury Hospital.  Soon after, they moved to Melbourne where Tony found work.  .They first lived in Asoct Vale in share houses with other friends they had met onboard the ship.
These friendships were to last a lifetime.  Many wonderful times were shared by these friends as they collectively embraced their new land and the Australian way of life.  Eventually Tony bought the family’s first house in Hopetoun St, Moonee Ponds with their friends the Pellis family living next door.  The gate in the fence, separating the two houses was always open.  Tony’s brother, Giovanni soon joined them in Moonee Ponds where he lived for a while before marrying Mum’s cousin, Maddalena, who had arrived in Melbourne from Italy that same year.  The young families spent many happy years together, and there are lovely photos of them enjoying time at Queens Park and also at home parties.
Tony travelled all over Melbourne by public transport and bicycle for work.  Over the years he worked on many landmark buildings and projects, such as Tullamarine Airport, where he worked alongside, the Great Train robber, Ronald Biggs; who was under the alias of Terry Cook; the Gas & Fuel Towers, the Royal Women’s Hospital and St. Vincent’s Hospital, to name just a few.
In 1963, Tony was overjoyed at the arrival of his daughter Annamaria and celebrated well.  His family was now complete.
With hard work, Tony saved enough money to buy his first car, an FJ Holden, and then in 1968, he purchased his first new car-a Holden Kingswood. That same year he worked relentlessly on a new family home in Avondale Heights.  In November, the family, together with help from zio Giovanin and a truck-moved to their new home.  This was the family home until 1999.
In the early 70’s the family enjoyed their first beach holiday at Dromana.  Tony fell in love with this beautiful part of Victoria.  In the years that followed more holidays were taken down the Peninsula, until eventually Tony purchased a block of land at Clyde Rd, Safety Beach and built the family’s first holiday house.  Tony went on to build many more holiday houses for other friends at Safety Beach.  This established a great circle of friends and Summer-time was the most anticipated time of the year.
I’ve lost count at the number of times we drove down to Safety Beach for the weekend so that Dad could work on the house.  And all of us children were involved with the building.  We all knew the correct names of his tools, Dad made sure of that.
He became a common sight around the beach on his bike, singing “Come on Aussie, come on!”  He had many unique phrases...he’d say things like, “Ci’o mullo!” It was also at this time that the family started to frequent the Famiglia Istriana Social Club, and through this that Tony made new friends and a new chapter in his life began.  Picnics, dances, lunches all filled with laughter, late-night card games and songs about their beloved homeland.
In 1976 Tony spent several months working as a building foreman in Singapore.  He fell in love with Singapore and truly embraced the culture, even trying the unusual delicacies on the menu. 
The next year, Tony returned to Italy after a twenty-one year absence together with Mum and me.  It was an emotional journey back to his homeland and I was lucky enough to share the joy of many family reunions. 
In 1983 Tony helped Fabio and Anna build their home at Mt.Martha.  That following year, he and Mum returned to Italy for another visit.  They arrived back in Australia not long before the birth of their first grandchild, Anthony.  In the following years Tony became a grandfather again to Stefan and Melissa.Christmases were special with Dad dressing up as Santa for the 3 children.
In 1988 Tony faced a challenge greater than any previously thrown at him with the diagnosis of Mum’s terminal illness.  Tony took on his role as carer with all his strength, both physical and emotional until her death in July, 1991.  He cooked, cleaned & looked after her 24/7.  It was during this difficult time in our lives that I really got to know the man that was my father.  He showed me what it was to love someone & he shouldered a lot of the pain; never complaining, never resenting his lot in life
Tony travelled to Italy twice more.  The last visit a very sad one for him as he shared his sister Attilia’s last days with her until she passed away. Recently, Tony was deeply saddened by the death of his younger brother, Giovanni, in February this year.  Tony’s eldest sister Maria is the last of the 5 siblings and lives in Italy.
In the years following he proudly attended my wedding to Bill and then welcomed more grandchildren to the world, Nicholas, Lauren & Holly.
In 2001, he met Teresita & her lovely family-Daniel and Lerna.  Dad & Teresita have been inseparable since & they were married in 2005.  They also welcomed more grandchildren together-Lanicah, Darriel & Danriel.
Dad, Papa’, the old man, Papa Tony, Vech, Veccio, Tony, Nonno, and Tatay...these were the names by which many of you knew my Dad.  He was all of these and much, much more.
Dad embraced life .He enjoyed politics and current affairs...look out if you rang his place during Sale of the Century.  He was well read and had a great passion for opera & music.  His home garden was his pride and joy and gave him and many others great pleasure.  The children especially enjoyed playing in Nonno’s garden.
He was a volunteer for many organisations and gave his time freely.  I will mention but a few, Blood donor for many years, City Council Community Bus Driver, a member of the Coro Adriatico-he loved singing; he swam and attended the Gym every week.  He donated tools to East Timor, and just recently had cultivated 385 yellow box gum tree seedlings for the Bushfire Relief effort.  On Wednesday and Saturday mornings you would find him along with Teresita at the Victoria Rose Garden, in Werribee, where he was responsible for a large bud section of the rose garden.
Dad, your death has left a massive void in all our lives.
No longer will you drop by my house with bags full of vegies from your garden.  No longer will you look after my garden and tell me off for not watering the plants.  No longer will you talk into my answering machine expecting me to talk back to you. 
I will no longer say to my kids, ‘go tell Nonno, cafe ze pronto’.  You will no longer sit at my table and share my life.  I am going to miss our arguments as much as our wonderful conversations...I AM GOING TO MISS YOU!

Latest Tributes

Flower Memorial Tribute
From: annabrasier
View Memorial's Tribute
Hi Dad, this is for you, because you loved flowers so much xx


Fathers Name: Antonio
Mothers Name: Caterina
Spouse's Name: Teresita, Santa (dec)
Children's Names: Fabio, Giorgio, Annamaria
Siblings Names: Maria, Atilia, Santo, Giovanni
Country of Birth: Italy
Country of Residence: Australia
City of Residence: Melbourne
Occupation: Construction
Marital Status: Married
Religion: Catholic


Favourite Music Genre: Classical


Place of Passing: Hoppers Crossing
Date of Passing: 10 April 2010
Cause of Passing: accident
Type of Funeral: Burial
Place of Burial: Werribee Cemetry
Plot Number: 358
Funeral Venue: nelson bros
Funeral Location: St Peter Apostle, Werribee
Funeral Date: 20 April 2010

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