Luigi / Gino Villani 9 January 1939 - 3 September 2015
This photograph accurately portrays Gino Villani in many ways, friendly, expressive, caring committed, creative, and with a wicked sense of humour. What it doesn't show is that despite all his attributes and life achievements he was also a private and retiring person publicly, with family very much at the centre of his life.
Family and friends know him as Gino, but for professional reasons as an actor he preferred to use his birth name Luigi, and as an actor Gino answered to any name. Even his parents often called him Jimmy or George.
At the time of Gino’s birth his parents Paul and Grace Villani, and his grandmother Rachel, were living in a bus on a farm in Wangaratta. The family had a variety of homes before settling in Ivanhoe about 1944 at a market garden with various Chinese market gardeners. Gino attended Mary Immaculate School for a short time and often told stories of the nuns telling him that although he was a lovable child he was a test of patience, particularly as one of many students in large classes in those days.
His family moved to Clifton Hill where In 1966, Gino met his future wife Ruth, as co-participants in a parish Minstrel show at Northcote Town Hall, something no longer politically correct. It began a lifelong friendship and resulted in marriage at Mary Immaculate Church Ivanhoe. The Minstrel experience also inspired and motivated Gino for an acting career.
Initially Gino joined local theatrical groups to gain experience and explore acting options. Gino found himself at Crawford Productions at Collins St with many fond memories of the Crawfords television family which became an integral part of his life. There were various roles, opportunities and responsibilities which included chauffeur to members of the Crawford family, finding cars for use in productions, transport to and from locations, and at a later date creating models and special effects for television and film productions. There were minor and major roles in Crawford television shows such as Homicide, Matlock Police, Division 4, Ryan and The Box. Over the years Gino attended various Crawfords reunions and enjoyed the company and friendships of many mates and lifelong friends.
There were memorable and various roles in advertisements, with one at Montsalvat with Noel Ferrier and Frank Thring, and voice overs in radio and television. People recognised him for his characters in television ads. There were parts in films, and in recent years a small role in the Wog Boy where Nick Giannopoulos told him that he was the original Wog Boy. At the time there were few local television actors of European appearance. One time after an arduous day making a single commercial requiring many takes and copious consumption of canned spaghetti Gino returned home and was dismayed that he had been lovingly prepared a special meal for that night - spaghetti.
Family was the most important element of his life and purpose for being and Gino declined work opportunities that would take him away for long period from those he loved. His family dedication, commitment and sense of responsibility personified him, regardless of the sacrifice and cost both financially and personally.
He loved his children unconditionally with times of fun, laughter and tears, as well as differences of opinion on various topics. Gino wanted them to have educational opportunities not possible for him because he commenced work underage to support his family when his father was seriously ill. He could be a hard taskmaster, but supported and provided for his children no matter what. He was immensely proud of each child individually for who they were and what they represented as adults, as well as their achievements as nurses and kindergarten teacher, and later career paths as CFA firefighter, Early Childhood Consultant, and Clinical Nurse educator.
With much support Gino fought a long battle against illness and the ravages of treatment. His last days were lovingly spent at home. He was always a loyal friend, faithful companion, a loving and committed husband and soulmate. He recently said that he and Ruth were as one, and the evening before his death they renewed their marriage vows their 44th wedding anniversary on 4th September.
Gino was widely admired for his friendly and cheery nature, good humour, sense of welcome and a never-ending repertoire of jokes and stories. He also suffered anxiety and panic attacks which he was mostly able to camouflage, though inevitably making him impatient, intolerant and critical at times.
Luigi / Gino Villani was loved by all and is summed up quite nicely in the photo above. His smile and bright eyes lit up the space with a sense of warmth and welcome. The person and character of Gino will be long loved and remembered by those closest to him, and by many others who encountered him.
Jamie Charles Bernhardt 13 January 1977 - 4th September 2015
Jamie was born into an army family in Melbourne on 13 January 1977, then moved with his family to Darwin for sever years. Upon the family's return to Victoria he and siblings Bruce and Julie spent some time in Nathalia with their grand parents until their father finished building their family home in Melton, where he started school. Later after a short time in Queensland Jamie returned to Melton aged 19 years and began working in the city. He married Christine in 1999 and his only son Dale was born the following year.
In his earl twenty's Jamie was diagnosed with Melas Syndrone, a degenerative form of of Epilepsy and returned to Nathalia. When able to he worked with Ian at the Bait Shed, spending many afternoons fishing for Redfin at Broken Creek.
By 2006 Jamie's health had declined to a point where his doctors decided he should live within half an hour of the Austin Hospital to access immediate medical attention. After living at Executive Care for two years he moved to Airlie Supported Accommodation, opposite Mary Immaculate Church. Jamie's last seven years were enriched by Parish friends, in particular Vince from the them Ivanhoe Parish Men's Group, Robyn, Eugene, Fr len Thomas and others
Jamie became Vince's shadow, in the process offering much advice on such things as how to paint, drive, mow lawns, and as an Essendon fan what was wrong with Richmond. But throughout all Jamie's difficult times Vince was always there for him through countless ambulance trips to the emergency room. There was also the Open House Community with Ian in particular and others, joining in trips to the football or cricket. Throughout all his ill health Jamie did his best always to call people on their birthdays.
Over his short life of 38 years Jamie inherited many families; his immediate family, his Melton Family, his Nathalia Family, his Ivanhoe Family, the Open House Community, the staff and residents at Airlie, local shopkeepers and identites, and the doctors, nurses and domestic staff at the Austin hospital who looked after him caringly for the last 18 years.
Jamie was a loveable and courageous person. He has enriched many lives with his humour, cheeky smile and attitude to life. He never said "why me", but rather "build a bridge and get over it". He gave at least as much as he received in goodness and friendship, a reminder to all that life is precious.