submitted by George Poulos on 18.12.2004
The first Naturalisation ceremony to be held in the Municipal Offices at Echuca took place in 1954, when Theodoros Castrissios, of the Astoria cafe, became an Australian citizen. Prior to this, Naturalisation Ceremonies were carried out by Police Magistrates in chambers and later in open court.
Theodoros, who was 19 years old, was born in Greece and at the time of his naturalisation, had been living in Echuca for four and a half years. Mr R.K. Brose MLA congratulated Theo on the step which he was taking and expressed the hope that “he would marry and have a family to grow up as Australians, in our great Country.” The Mayor, Cr. L.J. Lord then said, “he did not have the slightest doubt that Theo would prove a worthy citizen.”
Theo certainly fulfilled the hopes and expectations of the speakers at his naturalisation. He married and with his wife Anna, raised four daughters in Echuca. When Theo died on the 29th October 1995 over 60 notices were placed in the Riverine Herald, and the following obituary was published on the 1st November. “Echuca is mourning the passing of “The King of Echuca Catering” quiet achiever Theodoros (Theo) Castrissios, who died in the Echuca Hospital on Sunday, October 29 aged 60.
Theo was well known in the district for his work in the hospitality industry, besides his generous involvement with the sporting world and community at large. Born on the small Greek island of Kythera. Theo arrived in Australia in September 1949 and began work next day at his relations cafe, The Astoria, in Hare St. Echuca where O’Neill’s Newsagency now stands.He took over the Astoria with his three brothers, Steve, John and Jim, helping to develop the business as an integral part of Echuca life. In 1970, Theo launched a catering business and in 1986, established Twin Rivers Reception in Annesley St. He catered for the Echuca Racing Club for 19 years and the Echuca Harness Racing Club for 15 years, besides functions and civic receptions for the former Echuca City Council and many major events. Thousands of tourists enjoyed Theo’s catering through the riverboats. Alan Hardy the producer of “All the Rivers Run” awarded him the title of The King of Echuca Catering.
Theo and his brothers were also involved in real estate developments in Echuca and Moama area over the years. Theo was responsible for building Echuca’s first shopping arcade, the Taled Arcade, near Coles Supermarket.
As a businessman, as in every other aspect of his life, Theo was uniformly polite, friendly and eager to please, always ready with a smile and greeting. Despite the long hours he put into his business, Theo made a major contribution to the community. He was involved in the restoration of the Port of Echuca and helped set up Echuca’s ambulance service, for which he was awarded life membership. Theo was also a life member of the Echuca Urban Fire Brigade to which he belonged for over 10 years, and was involved establishing the Echuca Search and Rescue headquarters. In times of crisis - fire, search and rescue - Theo was on hand to provide refreshments, free. Theo played with the Echuca Football Club Reserves and supported the club by sponsoring the club and gathering membership. In 1994 for his involvement, he was awarded life membership. Theo also sponsored local netball and donated a first aid cabinet and equipment for players’ use. In 1992, The Echuca Rotary Club surprised Theo by awarding him a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of the high esteem in which he was held by Rotary, and the community in general.
Theo leaves a wife, Anna and four daughters, Lee, Elli, Diann and Kylie. His funeral will be held at the Anglican Church in High St. at 2.00 pm tomorrow, Thursday.”
Information from the Riverine Herald, Echuca, 1954 (date unknown) and the obituary, Riverina Herald 1st November 1995
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