(11 August 1936 - 5 March 2019)
  • Eulogy of Giuseppe Mannino written by his first-born son, Franco Mannino
    On the 11th of August, 1936, Giuseppe Mannino was born in San Piero Patti in Sicily. The third of seven children, he grew up in a poor but loving family. He had a difficult upbringing with his family struggling to survive and this made for resilient children.

    Dad did not want to end up toiling the soil like his father. As a teenager he walked into the local furniture artisan’s workshop where he would hang around, watch and help. He ended up working there for meagre pay. An enterprising young man, he soon started working for himself on the side, developing a good name and helping to support his struggling family, often surprising his father with his selfless generosity.

    In 1956, dad was drafted into compulsory military service for 18 months. He was offered the opportunity to serve this time close to home in Palermo, but dad wanted to go as far away as possible. He was posted to Verona.
    On completion of his service, dad returned home but found he didn’t fit in anymore. There were no opportunities anyway. He packed his small suitcase and left on a train back to Verona. There he soon found himself work and rented a small apartment.

    One night he was invited to a dance and at a table of young people, a young lady caught his eye. It was mum. He asked her to dance, she said yes and while dancing he asked her, “signorina, stasera lei balla solo con me?” (Miss, will you dance only with me this evening?), to which she replied “si”.
    And thus a great love story was born. (How appropriate for Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet.)

    They married on the 15th of December, 1960 and had 4 children, myself, Franco, Fiorentino, Alice and Laura.

    When we boys were small, dad opened a workshop in Via Ristori, in the historical city precinct. There, my brother and I have many memories of playing with offcuts of wood.

    Soon, the premises proved to be too small, as his reputation for creating beautiful work grew, so dad rented a factory in an industrial area. He would take us boys there often and we were in awe of his creations.

    Dad applied to emigrate to Australia with his family and we were accepted. I had just turned 10, Fiorentino was 8, Alice was 3 and Laura was 1 when we landed at Perth Airport on the 21st of February, 1971.

    This was the best move dad and mum ever made and we are forever grateful for their courage.

    We were lodged in the then migrant hostel of Point Walter where we could have stayed for one year but dad didn’t want the government supporting his family. With superhuman effort, within two weeks he found work, rented a house on Walcott Street and borrowed some money to supply mum with the basic necessities. The first years were hard.

    Shortly after, we moved to a state housing commission flat in Lockridge and whilst there, dad rented a factory in Bayswater and started his own business.
    We then moved to Vincent Street, Mount Lawley and finally to our present home on William Street.

    Dad loved his house, his shrine, his loving family home that he beautifully restored over the years and filled with his art.

    Shortly after this move, dad moved his business to King Edward Road, Osborne Park and finally, in 1981 to our present factory in Pearson Way. My brother and I joined him in the business where over the decades it grew and where we achieved great things.

    Dad slowly let go of the reigns over the past 15 years but he always kept coming in as often as he could to do whatever he could, which was a lot.

    Dad was a very humble, gentle, generous man; he never boasted and was reluctant to speak of his achievements outside of his family.

    For a man who had only a few years of elementary schooling and who always considered himself lesser as a result, dad was a very learned man. He would often put himself down because he didn’t have a full education, but he was the classic example of someone who epitomises what being intelligent is all about. It is about constantly learning, trying to improve yourself, of enquiring and of finding new ways to do things. And that was dad. We often called him the renaissance man.

    A born artist, he created beautiful pieces from clay which he then would cast into bronze if he could afford it. A bust of Leonardo, a head of David, the heads of his two young boys that we had to sit still and pose for – priceless to us.

    He excelled at wood inlaying. It amazed us how he could, with no drawings, create beautiful proportioned furniture from the vision in his head.

    Dad put a part of himself into every piece of furniture he created. You could see it when he was working on a piece. He would consider it from every angle, he would feel the wood and I swear it spoke to him. I’ve been walking around my home touching the pieces he made for us and I’ve felt instantly reassured. For those of you here today who own a piece dad made, go home today, lay your hands on that piece and you will feel his spirit.

    Dad was also an engineer at heart. He built machinery for us like a woodturning lathe with amazing gearing systems where he did so much beautiful wood turning. Truly a modern-day Leonardo.

    Dad loved his music with a passion. He would especially enjoy sharing that love by blasting his records early on Sunday mornings when we were all trying to sleep. Waltzes, tangos, operas, he particularly liked South American music and beautiful ballads. All the music you are hearing today are some of his favourites.

    Dad loved nature. He loved nothing better than taking family and friends on road trips to the outback to share in the majesty of this country. Anyone who went ‘bush’ with dad will never forget the fun and wild experience.

    He was a man with a wicked and, at times, inappropriate sense of humour. From him, we learned that sometimes you just have to make fun of the serious and ridiculous things in life if you want to survive. We miss hearing dad’s laughter.

    Mum and dad were blessed to find each other. They were complete opposites who kept each other grounded. Together they made our home a beautiful, happy place to grow up in. They were and are so in love and it flowed through to us kids. They held hands, they kissed, they danced, they hugged, they joked. Dad would often lovingly annoy and tease mum – he never lost the little boy inside him. Dad’s reason for living was his family; his wife, his children and our families. That was the life essence in his veins and he showed it constantly.

    It’s impossible to condense the life of such a great man. He left his mark, he made the world a better place, he loved us beyond measure. We are made of him, we are here and through us his legacy lives.

    I can feel his guiding hand on my shoulder and may it be there forever.

    Ciao papa, vola via su ali dorate e guidaci da lassú. Un giorno saremo ancora tutti assieme.

    Ti vogliamo bene, we love you, tua famiglia.
    Uploaded by Ms Laura Mannino
    • 2 years ago
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