Nina (nee Koutsoukis) Kyriakos
Born: 21st May 1924
Fremantle, Western Australia
Died: 6th September 2015
Age: 91 years
Today we would like to honour the life of Nina Kyriakos. Nina was a true lady in every sense of the word, a warm-hearted, generous and elegant person. She was honest, direct and bossy, as well as kind, considerate, supportive and respectful. Nina was 91 years 3 months when she died. She never looked her age, with her beautiful complexion, sparkling green eyes and warm smile. She always took immense pride in her appearance.
Nina was born on May 21st, 1924 in Fremantle, Western Australia. The eldest child of George and Evangelia Koutsoukis and big sister to Con, Lily and Marika. Her parents married on the Greek island Kastellorizo, and in 1923 they migrated to Fremantle. In 1929 Nina and her family departed for Port Said, Egypt, where Marika was born. In Egypt, her father George was in partnership in a flourishing import/export company, he was a prominent member of the community, and served on education board. Whilst the business was strong, they enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle in Egypt. Nina attended school and in her early years learnt to speak Greek, French, Arabic and Italian. The depression impacted on the family business and in 1934 the family returned to Perth. They moved to Melbourne where Nina attended St. Josephs and Kildara Catholic Schools. After buying a fruit shop in Malvern, the family bought The Lyric Coffee Lounge in 1939.
In 1946, Nina Koutsoukis was introduced to a fine young man, Michael George Kyriakos from Western Australia. Nina and Michael married on Sunday 19th January 1947 and were happily married for 65 years and shared a wonderful long life together with love and company. For the first five years of their marriage they lived with Nina’s family in Hawthorn. They bought their one and only home around the corner from her parents in Hambledon Road, where they lived for 60 years. They had three daughters Christine, Vivien and Gina. There were many happy family occasions and a particular highlight was Michael’s legendary name days filled with singing, dancing and the banquet table. Nina was a very gracious and wonderful hostess, and a great cook. A house filled with warmth, joyfulness and plenty of food was synonymous with Nina. The original MasterChef was a perfectionist with her cooking. Nina enforced quality control in her preparation and her finished product. She would say, “nothing but fresh ingredients”. Nina and her family enjoyed many happy celebrations being always together at birthdays, Easter and Christmas. She loved the visits from the family. Nina was hospitable, welcoming and would organize a “trapezi” (banquet table) for all visitors, particularly interstate relatives. She always remembered and acknowledged significant days in family and friends lives.
Michael and Nina worked together throughout most of their married life. In 1947, Michael together with Nina’s brother Con Koutsoukis went into partnership in the Jolly Roger Restaurant. It was the first restaurant in St Kilda Road. With Nina’s assistance, they were hosts over the years to countless satisfied customers from all walks of life, including celebrities from television, identities from the racing fraternity, office workers, school children and of course, their friends. They ran the restaurant for 38 years; it became a landmark in Melbourne. It was a meeting place for everyone, filled with happy and cherished memories of Michael and Nina, working side by side at the Jolly Roger. Nina was a ‘barista’ before her time, renowned for her popular frothy cappuccinos. She always made the customers feel welcome and at home, despite working long and hard hours.
Family was important and always came first in her life. She had a strong value system and a strong sense of duty to family. She always did the right thing and instilled that in her daughters. Her three daughters have relied on Nina at different times in their lives and she has always been there for them. Nina was particularly close to her middle daughter Vivien, her Evangelia. They shared a love of music and dance. Vivi sang, played the guitar and was a sensational artist exhibiting all the Koutsoukis traits. The death of Vivien fifteen years ago was a particular sad time. Nina said recently she was lucky she had her daughters – your daughters were lucky to have had you. Nina was respected by her son-in-law Con Gekas, whom she was good to all the time. She was the proud and loving Godmother of Margaret Moraitis, her son Harley and Lily’s daughter, Leah. Nina was a wonderful grandmother to her four grandchildren Linda and Stanley Christofas and Michael and Katherine Gekas, who all adored her. She was extremely proud of their achievements and had a special and unique relationship with them all. She loved the visits by the grandchildren, and her home became a second home for all of them. She was thrilled to become a great grandmother last year to Stan and Tanya’s son, Dean and Linda and Mark’s daughter, Michelle. Nina had a special bond with many family members throughout her life which included her sister Marika, sisters-in-law Eve, Evelyn, and Maria, goddaughter Margaret, and her cousin Melody who she looked forward to seeing. Thank you to all the family and friends who spent time with Nina, called, asked about, and cared for her.
Nina was a pianist, adored music and dancing especially Greek. She loved the water and had happy childhood memories swimming in the Nile, and later in Australia with her family travelling from Malvern by train to Mordialloc. Later, she would travel with her girls to many beaches as well as holidaying by the sea. In 1962, Nina and Michael travelled by sea on their six month European trip on the cruise liner, the Oronsay, a highlight of their lives. Later in life, Nina would continue to venture to the pool on a weekly basis for over twenty years. In their later years Michael and Nina enjoyed revisiting their birth places of Darwin and Fremantle. Nina enjoyed socializing, especially when attending Kassie Seniors and Legacy events. Nina loved shopping for her parties and for going out. She had a touch of class, had fine tastes and a great sense of style, always immaculately dressed and groomed with all the right accessories. She was beautiful, graceful and had elegance. She was proud of her Greek heritage, of a Kastellorizian background and loved all things Greek and listened to radio station 3XY Radio Ellas. She had a great faith in God and was devoutly Greek Orthodox. These qualities were instilled in her by her mother to whom she was especially close. She was caring, cared and a carer.
Nina was well known for her hospitality at work and at home, ‘the best cook in the family’. She was hardworking with a strong work ethic, a strong value system and taught her girls to always do the right thing, as she always did. Nina had a great sense of style and throughout her life, in good times and bad, she maintained her style with great dignity. She was traditional, religious and proud of her Greek heritage. Nina would always say at the end of a phone conversation, “love you and leave you” – now, as we have little left to say, so Nina, “we love you and leave you”. We cherish the memories of this great lady.
Nina, your family will miss you deeply, your love, care and generosity. We will miss your beautiful smile and your company. You are and forever will be in our hearts.
Reunited with her beloved husband Michael and loved daughter Vivien.
Nina is survived by her daughters Christine and Gina, son-in-law Con, grandchildren Linda, Mark, Stanley, Tanya, Michael and Katherine and great grandchildren Dean and Michelle.