Agnes Veronica Remay
02/10/1926 ~ 13/02/2022
Beloved daughter of Rudolph and Elizabeth Litvan.
Sister of Rudi and Christine.
Much loved wife of Tibor.
Mother of Laszlo (Laci), Vilmos (Vili) and Agnes (Agika).
Grandmother and Great-grandmother.
Requiem Mass for the Repose of the Soul of Agnes Veronica Remay will be held
at Our Lady of Lourdes Armadale, 631 High St, Prahran
on Friday 4th March 2022, at 10am.
Following the service refreshments will be served.
Private Family Burial
THE POETS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
MY MOTHER’S LIFE
Agnes Veronica Remay
2/10/1926 to 13/02/2022
95 years 4 months 11 days
Born Budapest, Hungary. Died Brighton, Australia.
An extraordinary child who lived in a war zone throughout her life in Europe: the ‘fallout’ of carnage and despair due to World War I; the impacts of WWII; and the Hungarian Uprising. War looked to be completely over in a free country, but then in the final years of this tremendous life, another series of ‘wars’ would claim her life.
Born eight years after WW1 and thirteen years before WWII my Mother was constantly traumatised by war. Her primary school years were spent in Budapest and later she was educated at Charters Towers College in London, England. Evident to all who knew Agnes was her astute intelligence. Almost immediately after disembarking the Fairsea from Genoa in Italy and arriving in Port Melbourne, my Mother a gifted trilinguist, easily secured her first job at Bonegilla Migrant Camp. There she worked as a Translator/Interpreter in the office; she assisted new settlers like herself with their visas and provided a referral service. Her first glowing work reference for services provided to immigrants would come from The Australian Government.
It was however not my Mother’s quickness of mind that was her most edifying attribute, but her striking appearance. Even as a child her beauty was remarkable and at four years of age a statue was erected in her honour at Margit Sziget in Budapest. Her vibrant curly red hair that was styled to perfection and smiling light green eyes would ignite almost every conversation.
In tumultuous war times she would be the love interest of many. She was married at a young age, unsuccessfully. And after rehoming her sons during the Hungarian Uprising, she would seek refuge for herself and them in Australia.
In March 1957 she met the most stable influence of her life. With Tibor Gyula Remay an elite sportsman, who missed playing basketball in The Melbourne Olympic Games of 1956 due to this fractious period; she would spend the next 65 years. They enjoyed mostly happy times together. It wasn’t always easy for them of course, but they were both earnest in their gratitude to Australia, the new country that warmly welcomed them. Dedicated to a conscientious life, they bought The Flamingo Restaurant in Acland Street, St Kilda and managed it for three years. Always unafraid of new beginnings, they later bought and managed another restaurant in St Kilda named The Beefeater. These were my mother’s hobby jobs. She had a fulltime job with Socomin, a subsidiary of Petersville International for 27 years; not once, not ever, would she take a single day off work. Extraordinary.
My Mother was absolutely stoic; resilient, dedicated and triumphant in just about everything she undertook. My Mother’s hobby job with my Father, her ‘real job’ at Socomin, showed a woman of great talent, but also a woman whose exceptionally busy life meant that she missed the love and affection that a normal family provided. She spent years attempting to bring her sons to Australia and battled with Immigration laws. By the time her sons arrived, it was almost too late to build the family she was desperate to have. They had their own families to look after.
It was not ever in my Mother’s Austro-Hungarian ancestry to be ordinary. She would not suffer fools gladly. Later in life at the age of 62, she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) at Melbourne University. A Diploma of Education specialising in English As A Second Language and History, prepared my Mother for a life of bliss. She reconnected with her European roots and taught History like no other. She left her role as an Executive and for 10 years she taught in schools, first at Melton Secondary College then for eight years at Keilor Downs Secondary College, where she enjoyed warm friendships with many. In 2000 my Mother continued her love of teaching by working for AAA Tutorials where she is remembered as one of their favourite History Tutors. She maintained her role until 2016.
In all this time, my Mother was a truly dedicated individual. She loved her family very deeply, her husband Tibor especially, their only daughter, who grew up as an only child, her two sons who lived separate lives and their extended families. In 2015 my Mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and had the love and support of her family.
My Mother enjoyed friendships from all over the world. She was a beautiful and devoted friend to Magda Neni, whom she had brought to Australia for holidays. She was also the dedicated friend to her daughter. She would be the source of incredible inspiration and encouragement. Together my parents supported a very talented figure skater whose career in figure skating dramatically ended at age 14, mine. Nonetheless my Mother’s love for the Performing Arts: ballet, theatre, musicals, imparted to her daughter meant I would have a wealth of experience and be left lasting impressions of a rich and dynamic cultural heritage.
To all who knew my Mother, her reconnection with AFL, ‘The Saints’ at her daughter’s encouragement from 2004, brought her great happiness. She loved ‘The Saints’ since the 1960s. Message has it that she’s going to be more abundantly influential YET. In fact, she’s making arrangements already for a Grand Final that ‘The Saints’ can actually win next time they participate in a Grand Final. A delicate affair to be sure, but in the company of Angels and Saints now, she has much good advice.
For me my Mother was not always easy to get along with. I had to be perfect. Perfectly dressed, perfectly groomed, and perfectly mannered. When on holidays be it on the Gold Coast for our Annual Holidays enjoyed by the Remays for 40 years, or at School Holiday Events at The National Gallery of Victoria, The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Theatre, Musicals from Broadway brought for our viewing at The Arts Centre, The Tennis Open, there was an expectation of appreciation and brilliant engagement.
There were problems in my Mother’s outlook, but without any hesitation everyone who knew Agnes saw her as a warm-hearted and generous person. Her unenviable childhood and adolescence; having lived through treacherous war and coming from a broken family in Hungary, was deserving of utmost compassion. Her daughter understood and gave her compassion. Most importantly, coming from brokenness she found wholeness in Tibor and the freedom to love as she believed. My Mother adored life and lived it fully. Her overseas trips resulted from winning another and another and another holiday thanks to Emma Page, where she sold more party-plan jewellery than anybody in Australia. This meant that her devoted and supportive husband and her daughter would accompany her on some of their best ever holidays including to Fiji where the Remays learnt to speak Fijian.
My Mother’s life was as spectacularly lived as she was spectacular.
The pain of my Mother’s last years, was exacerbated by Alzheimer’s Disease. The grief and loss she carried her entire life was like a reawakened monster that she wrestled with daily in the last 7 years. Yet it is essential to note in the final analysis of my Mother’s life, that she was a remarkably hopeful person, always optimistic. She was a truly dedicated Australian and Catholic. Her Jewish history enabled her a wealth of understandings as well as concomitant pain. My Mother was a philosopher and a humanitarian with a passion for progress.
Agnes Veronica Remay (nee Litvan) read The Herald Sun more avidly than the Bible. Her introduction to this news source commenced in the 1950s when as one of her first jobs as a Barmaid at The Duke of Wellington; steps away from The Herald Sun building in Flinders Street, she would regularly meet and chat with Journos, as well as serve them alcoholic beverages. She was generously rewarded with lots and lots and lots of tips. This meant not a day went by without a copy of The Herald Sun.
From Heaven today I’m sure my Mother knows there’s another wish besides who should win the 2022 AFL Grand Final. There’s a wish that might soon be realised for that recent journalism graduate, her daughter, that this Obituary written about a dedicated life might strike a chord, or result in pulling a few strings, within the offices of The Herald Sun.
Some reminiscences and considerations about Agnes for Agnes
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is said to have remarked,
‘Our life is not what we have lived but that which we remember, and how we remember it, in order to tell others about it.’
Your mother Agnes Remay was our truly remarkable colleague at Keilor Downs College. She became a highly esteemed, reliable replacement teacher for eight years from the late nineties. Especially amongst us women, Agnes was admired for her tenacity, her knowledge, her courage and poise. We’ve all been retired for quite some time and remain in awe of Agnes having taught with us while well into her seventies.
Merrin ’was really saddened to hear of Agnes’ death cos I’d actually been thinking a bit about her lately, just wondering how old she’d be and how she’s going.’ She goes on, ‘I just remember quizzing her about why she would want to be teaching at her age. I think she was 72 at the time and that seemed just so old to me (seems a bit different now, as I approach a similar age!) Although I don’t remember the specifics of her answer, I do remember being in awe of the energy and enthusiasm that she showed.’
Debbie remembers Agnes as a ‘woman of grace and dignity’, even when not treated well.
Hülya, in charge of staffing at the time, remembers her as a ‘very intelligent, hard-working role model for all females, who came into contact with her.’ Hülya is sorry she cannot attend the funeral, as she is away from Melbourne. She wants her condolences passed on to you.
Lois, also saddened, was jolted by the news of Agnes’ death into reminiscing of our shared times, joys and tribulations at KDC.
Kate remembers Agnes well as an amazing woman and fellow Social Studies and History teacher. Like role model Agnes, Kate bravely continues with some relief teaching in her seventies.
I, Birgit, remember meeting Agnes, when I returned from a secondment in 2000. We took to conversing in German. I still hear Agnes’ voice ‘Es geht alles vorüber…’ (‘Everything will pass …’) when some students had upset her. This exceedingly intelligent, elegant, fierce, deeply committed educator demanded and received respect from students and colleagues alike.
When I took early retirement at 55, Agnes was among my farewell guests. We took opportunities to stay in touch by phone and via Christmas cards, thus keeping each other abreast of our lives and loved ones, occurrences in our respective families and finding assurance that we ourselves kept kicking goals. Sadly, the last communication came from you, dear Agnes junior, when your mum had left her body behind.
‘Es geht alles vorüber, es geht alles vorbei …, ‘Everything passes, everything moves on …’
Love remains, as do new beginnings.