In Memoriam - Victor George Galea, 1930-2021

Victor Galea, a generous benefactor to St Vincent de Paul Society NSW, was born in Senglea, a fortified city in the south-eastern region of Malta founded in the 16th Century. The second of five children, he was baptised at the local Parish Church dedicated to Our Lady of Victories, hence the Christian name chosen for him by his parents.

His early years were peaceful and fun-loving but the encroaching war in Europe began to wreak havoc on the then-British colony. In later life, he would recount how the family was caught in German and Italian air raids on the way to school or church, sending them dashing for the safety of underground shelters.

The Maltese were some of WW2’s great survivors and Victor remained proud of King George VI’s awarding the country and its people the George Cross for valour, the civilian equivalent of the Victoria Cross. The George Cross remains on the current design of Malta’s flag.

Victor completed school and qualified for university but, with other children and only one income, his parents could not afford for him to attend and he had to find work, first as a teacher and later at Britain’s post-war Mediterranean Naval base.

Always inspired by his faith, he was a member of the Legion of Mary in Malta and would continue his spiritual commitment in later life in Sydney where he became a member of the St Vincent De Paul Society, first in Riverwood and later in Marsfield.

In 1957, Victor married Emma and, in time, they had three children. With the British planning to leave the country, the family decided to migrate to Australia, the new home for many Maltese, including his parents who had settled here earlier.

“This was quite an ordeal for all the family,” recalls his eldest daughter Maree.

“But after more than three weeks at sea, via the Suez Canal and Freemantle, we arrived in Sydney on 8th June 1963.”

They moved into Victor’s parents’ home in Redfern where the children shared a single room.

The next month, Victor gained his first Australian job, with Peter’s Ice Cream at Redfern, then worked at Commonwealth Industrial Gases, and later the Department of Agriculture. The family managed to buy a house in Waterloo.

Things began to move fast. The family relocated to Peakhurst, the kids – soon there were two more boys – changed schools to St Joseph’s Riverwood, which became their new Parish. The family grew, with seven grandchildren over the coming years.

“Around 2004, Mum became sick and Dad then had to look after her at home until she was eventually hospitalised in 2006 – moving from hospital to Bethany Nursing Home, St Catherine’s, for full-time care.”

Later, Victor moved into Rendu Independent Living at St Catherine’s, in the same complex as his beloved wife, even cooking their Sunday lunches.

“Dad visited Mum ‘upstairs’ all day, every day, for almost two years in her declining years, to help with her meals and slow walks, then taking her around in her wheelchair. Then, in 2008, Mum passed away.”

Victor later moved to the higher care facility Bethany Villa where he would live for a further seven years.

The Society honours the life of brother Victor Galea and expresses our gratitude for his kindness, and that of his family, in making a bequest through his will. In the Christian spirit of this late Vincentian, the money received will be used for the benefit of people in need.