Tributes and tears for George
THE RAINDROPS fell and joined with the tears as more than 150 farewelled George Kotis yesterday - George their friend, George their “philos”, George with “the big Greek smile”.
The popular restaurateur's WetSide eatery was chosen by long-time buddy, Councillor David Dalgleish, as the place to hold a memorial service for George who died in a terrible Bruce Highway crash on October 2.
That evening was also the official opening of WetSide, but the man who dreamed of creating something special for his wife Haoyan never arrived to celebrate with his 400 guests.
Haoyan, in black and wearing dark glasses, sat in the front row under the blue shaded patio with the climbing vines. She struggled to remain calm when her husband of 10 years' life was put up on a screen in photos, including those from their wedding - to the Frank Sinatra golden oldie, My Way.
At the end of the moving service, Haoyan joined family friend and celebrant Annette Georgiou to release 17 white doves - and as they flew into the rain the sun began to emerge.
Former Maryborough detective Col Hobson paid tribute to his friend of 41 years. “We come from different parts of the community but we're all here for one reason...The word failure didn't exist for him...He didn't have a notion of the impact he made on so many lives.
“Haoyan was the soul mate of George's life ... She has asked to say how she appreciates those who have supported her in this time of grief.”
Mayor Mick Kruger talked of George's early days in Maryborough, of his “big Greek smile”.
Tamara Bailey, who sometimes sang at George's al fresco restaurant in Charles Street, performed Amazing Grace.
David was unable to speak. He asked for his tribute to be read instead.
“So often he'd phone me. ‘Where are you, David?' If I was working, I'd tell him and he'd say, ‘When you finish work call in'.
“I still hear that phone call.”
And then David took the microphone and thumping his heart, said huskily, “I'm right here, mate.”
Money is now being raised to put a plaque in memory of George Thomas Kotis in WetSide Water Park.