submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 05.02.2013
Venardos, William Emmaniol (Bill) (1911–1986)
by Dennis Conomos
William Emmaniol Venardos (1911-1986), businessman, municipal councillor and community leader, was born on 22 November 1911 at Karavas, Kythera, Greece, eldest son of six children of Vangeli Venardos, general merchant, and his wife Fiorenza, née Corones. Arriving in Sydney with an uncle in 1926, William gained experience in Greek cafés in several New South Wales towns, including Yeoval, Manildra and Gosford, before settling in central Queensland in 1929. At Jericho he worked at the Blue Bird Café, which he bought in the early 1930s. On 9 October 1933 at St Matthew’s Church of England, Jericho, he married 16-year-old Mavis Dulcie Cecilia Herman, a waitress. Bill was naturalised on 6 June 1934.
In 1935 Venardos’s business failed and he began work as a fettler with Queensland Railways. Over the next two years he laboured at several small centres, camping in makeshift accommodation. Transferred to Gladstone in 1937, he was elected to the committee of the local branch of the Australian Railways Union. In February 1939 he enlisted for part-time service in the Citizen Military Forces, joining the 42nd Infantry Battalion. He commenced full-time duty on 20 September 1941 as a cook. In January 1944 he transferred with his unit to the Australian Imperial Force and served in New Guinea and Bougainville. In 1944 he was awarded the commander-in-chief’s card for distinguished service in the South-West Pacific Area. He was discharged in November 1945.
Venardos, with his brother Mick, bought the Central Café, and later the Barcoo Hotel at Blackall, Queensland. He began his long association with local government as a councillor (1952-53) on the Blackall Shire Council, resigning when he moved to Nambour, where he and his brother bought the Vogue Theatre, then operating in a tin shed. In 1958 they opened a new Vogue Theatre in Currie Street. Their family business expanded, operating drive-in cinemas at Gympie and Caloundra. As a councillor (1961-76) and deputy-chairman (1967-70) of the Maroochy Shire Council, Venardos advocated establishing parks and planting trees in the streets of Nambour. His goal for a park was partly realised when, in 1979, the MSC began to develop Koala Park, close to the heart of the town.
In February 1976 Venardos moved to Caloundra and stood unsuccessfully that year for election to the Landsborough Shire Council. Elected in 1979, he remained a councillor until his death. He served at different times as chairman of the tourism and the health and building committees. In September 1983 he received a twenty-year service award from the Local Government Association of Queensland.
On arriving in Nambour Venardos had become active in the Greek Orthodox Church of St George, Brisbane, as country representative (1953-86) on the council. He was awarded life membership. A member of the Kytherian Association of Queensland, he served as president in the 1960s and 1970s. He was president (1964-65) of the Nambour sub-branch of the Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. A keen follower of rugby league, he played a leading role in the game’s administration and was awarded life memberships of the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay rugby league clubs and of the Queensland Rugby League.
Survived by his wife and their three sons and one daughter, Venardos died on 22 April 1986 at Caloundra. A former Maroochy shire chairman, Eddie De Vere, said, ‘I always listened to Bill because he always had the ear of the people and he never hesitated to express his views. He was a most courageous man and a very colourful identity’. Venardos’s funeral was conducted at St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Caloundra, with Greek Orthodox rites, and he was buried in the local cemetery. A park in Caloundra and a rugby league football trophy have been named in his honour.
■D. A. Conomos, The Greeks in Queensland (2002)
■Nambour Chronicle, 21 Feb 1958, p 5
■Chronicle (Nambour), 27 Dec 1973, p 2, 18 Feb 1975, p 1, 8 Jan 1976, p 1, 6 Nov 1979, p 4, 17 Apr 1980, p 4
■Caloundra-Kawana Advertiser, 18 Aug 1982, p 5
■Sunshine Coast Daily, 23 Apr 1986, p 3
■A1, item 1933/8526, J25, item 1969/7913, B883, item QX59967 (National Archives of Australia)
■private information and personal knowledge.
Dennis Conomos, 'Venardos, William Emmaniol (Bill) (1911–1986)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/venardos-william-emmaniol-bill-15890/text27091, accessed 5 February 2013.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 18, (MUP), 2012
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