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2004: Obituaries

MaltaMedia remembers a number of people who passed away during 2004. Their lives made a significant impact on the Maltese way of life.

(Died: 15 January 2004)

Tony Mallia was a journalist and media executive who worked mostly at the service of the Nationalist Party, either in governemnt or within the party's media structure.

Born in St Julians on 24 September 1942, Mallia received his education a the Stella Maris College and at Thompson TV College in Glasgow, Scotland. He joined the civil service in 1962 and started working as a programme editor with the Broadcasting Authority in 1967.

During the 1960s Mallia was active within the Young Christian Workers, and he even held the position of Naitonal President. Tony Mallia

He joined Independent Print in 1979 as editor-in-chief and was the editor of The Democrat between 1980 and 1989.

He was a member of the Broadcasting Authority between 1979 and 1981. Mallia held several roles within the Ministry for Youth and Culture and was involved in the drafting of the law that liberalized Maltese broadcasting. He was also Malta’s represententaitve in a Council of Europe convention for three years.

In 1995 he was appointed Executive Chief of PBS (Malta) Ltd., a position he held until 1996. Two years later he was appointed deputy chairman at PBS.

Tony Mallia was married to Mary nee Grima and they had two children, Madeleine and Alex.

(Died: 16 January 2004)

Fr. Carmelo Zammit was a Salesian priest who held various positions within the order's pastoral centres in Malta and abroad.

Carmelo Zammit was born in Birkirkara on 28 April 1931. From a very young age, Carmelo showed signs of a Salesian vocation. At the age of 15 he started academic studies at St. Aloysius College in B’Kara. During this time, he showed great love for football and was a keen football player displaying great promise. As a schoolboy he had already played for Hamrun Minors and would later play for Siggiewi, Birkirkara and the Salesian Oratory Youths in Gozo, where in 1952 he joined the Salesians as an Aspirant at the Don Bosco Oratory in Victoria.

He was ordained priest on 19 March 1964. Following his ordination, Don Carmelo was to spend nearly 30 years in Sicily. Among the Pastoral Activities he was engaged in, was Oratory work at San Agostino in Caltagirone (1964 – 1966); Don Rua in Barcellona (1966 –1970); Riesi (1966 –1974); and at San Gregorio in Catania (1974 – 1978). From 1978 to 1981, Don Carmelo was asked to go to San Giuseppe – in Pedara where he was assigned to teach English to the aspirants.

In 1981 Don Carmelo returned to Malta as Bursar at Savio College, Dingli. In the years that followed he served as Rector at St. Patrick’s Salesian School in Sliema and was for some years responsible for the Junior section of the Salesian Oratory in Sliema.

Besides his priestly office, Fr. Carmelo also left a mark with his unusual talent of drawing ‘cartoons’ of countless ‘historic’ football goals both from the international scene and also goals from the local Premier Division.

(Died: 9 February 2004)

Mro Carmelo Zammit was one of Malta's most prolific composers of early Maltese pop song and religious hymns.

Carmelo Zammit was born on 16 April 1907. He studied at the Sliema Primary School and at the Garrison Command Army Educational School. He joined the RMA as soldier in 1938. In June 1940, during an air raid, Zammit suffered serious injuries. His six colleagues who were close to him lost their life but Carmelo survived, following 40 days in hospital.

Maestro Zammit was a self-made musician who started composing music at a young age, learning most of his craft playing the piano while severing in the army. He eventually became maestro di cappella at St Paul’s Parish Church in Valletta.

He often to team up with Albert M. Cassola and together write songs for local and foreign song contests. Some of his songs, including Għaziza Ommi, Il-Ġlieda tan-Nanniet, Għala Ħallejtni Ma Niċħdek Qatt and Quddiem il-Kwadru tal-Madonna are still very popular today. Zammit wrote several band marches too, some of which are still played at local festas.

He was married to Guzeppina nee Vella and had five children, Joseph, Phyllis, Maria, Stella and Jane. He was awarded the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika in 1997. Towards the end of his life he was also honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malta Music Awards.

(Died: 11 February 2004)

Robbie Buttigieg was a footballer whose name was linked to Sliema Wanderers FC in the 1950s and 60s.

He was born in Sliema on 27 November 1936 and started playing football from an early age. Buttigieg made his debut with Shamrocks in 1955. During the season 1962-1963 he was the captain of the team. He played 166 official championship games.

With Sliema Wanderers he won seven championship titles, two Cassar Cup, five Scicluna Cup, three FA Trophies, one MFA League, one Idependence Cup and one Testaferrata Cup. He played several times with the MFA and was a regular player of the RAF.

(Died: 22 February 2004)

Paul Arnaud was one of Malta's foremost band leaders between the 1930s and the 1960s.

He was born in Valletta on 27 January 1911 and started studying music when he was eight years old. Four years later he started playing with the La Vallette Band. He furthered his musical studies under Maestro Carmel Pace, until he obtained the dipolma of A.Mus.LCM. Later he obtained the LLCM as a bandmaster in London.

At the age of 16, he was the youngest band player during a memorable concert performed by the La Vallette Philharmonic Society in Como, Italy. Aranud played the clarinet piccolo.

During the thirties he was one of the first saxophonists playing in local dance halls. He also directed the orchestra Hungarians, which used to perform regularly at the Premier in Valletta and the Chalet in Sliema. During the Second World War he led the musical sextette of the regiment. In 1947 he went to London with his orchestra but returned after two months. During this time he met Frankie Vaughan, while the latter was working in Malta and they performed together on numerous occasins. Later, Vaughan had several hits in the UK charts.

In 1949 he toured the United Kingdom with the Golden Age Musical Show. Paul came back to Malta and took all his family to the United Kingdom where they stayed for 12 years. He performed on the Queen Elizabeth, Empress of England and Oronsay. On his return to Malta he assembled a 40-piece orchestra and named it the Arnaud Variety Orchestra. The orchestra played different genres, from classic music to boogie.

He directed the Malta Song Festival on numerous occasions. He was one of the founders and the first President of UKAM, the union of Maltese singers and song-writers. In 1995 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malta Music Awards.

Paul Arnaud was married to Polly nee Cremona, and together they had six children, Carmen, Paul, Doris, Joe, Margaret and Miriam.

(Died: 10 March 2004)

Anthony MontanaroAnthony Montanaro was a professional journalist who worked for the Allied Press for most of his career.

He was born in Cospicua on 23 March 1931 and studied at the Lyceum and at the Royal University of Malta. Montanaro joined the editorial staff of Il-Berqa in 1943, where he worked his way up the ranks from Foreign News Editor, and Night Editor, to Assistant Editor and eventually Editor. Between 1958 and 1966 he was the editor of The Sunday Times.

Anthony Montanaro was married to Frances nee' Lautier and together they had five children, Godwin, Alex, Gerald, Alan and Josette.

(Died: 10 March 2004)

Frank Portelli was one of three Maltese artists who, in the immediate post-war years, recreated the foundations upon which Maltese Art was to rise again in closer consonance with European sensibility.

He was born in 1922 and at the age of thirteen he started attending the School of Arts in Valletta where he studied under the Caruana Dingli brothers, Edward and Robert During the war years he was drafted into the Royal Air Force and was stationed first at Luqa then at Ta'Kandja. After the war he became involved in the drawing of topographical maps which in the long run served as a basis for his fascination with contours.

In 1947 he distinguished himself among the top students within his course when he sat for his final examinations at the School of Art earning himself a scholarship at the Kennington College of Art in England. Frank PortelliOn his return to Malta in 1950 he became a key figure in a fresh, novel and sometimes daring symbolic artistic expression at a time when Malta was seeking its own national identity. In 1951 he was elected as the first secretary of the Modern Art Circle.Their first public appearance as a body in an exhibition was held at Palazzo de la Salle in 1952.

He was among the first six Maltese artists to exhibit in the Venice Biennale in 1958. it was only after forty-one years that Malta participated again in the world renowned exhibition.

His interior design career was consolidated around the late sixties and these early works included the Whisky a Gogo in Sliema, the Dragut and Piali restaurants along with the Piper Club nightspot, the La Stella Band Club in Victoria, Gozo, the Coliero's Tavern Restaurant at Pinto Stores, among others.

His work reflects the openness of his personality to new challenges. It is eclectic in expression, ranging from cubism and impressionism to a later unique experimentation with contours. In the late seventies he was given the arduous task of taking in hand the entire decorative scheme for the sanctuary of St Therese of Lisieux at Birkirkara. By far his monumental work will remain the decorating of the dome and the pendentives of the Basilica of Senglea.

Frank Portelli married Rosa Attard in June 1952, and together they had three children, Henri, Simone, and Sharonne.

(Died: 17 March 2004)

Victor Galdes was one of Malta's foremost post-war radio producers and broadcasters.

He was born in Valletta on 6 May 1923 and studied at St Augustine College in Valletta. Galdes started performing in plays at a young age, while he was a member of the Catholic Action and the Society for Christian Doctrine.

Victor GaldesDuring the war he served as wireless operator for the Royal Air Force. After the war he joined the International Radio as presenter. A few years later he joined Redifussion. While working full-time with the Rediffusion Victor Galdes studied radio production at the BBC in London. Back in Malta, he started producing innovative radio shows, including Evviva l-Operetta, Nidħku Flimkien, Karambola, Mill-Barumbara, Ftit minuti Ma', Niltaqgħu Ma', Għerf bil-Kejla, Mimdudin u Weqfin. A week after the first TV station in Malta was launched, Victor Galdes was asked to present X'Jista' Jkun? - a thirty-minute prime-time TV quiz show. He appeared on TV for the first time on 2 October 1962.

Victor Galdes was one of Malta's most sought-after event presenters. He hosted the Miss Malta contest thirteen times. Galdes was also a popular actor, forming part of the Stage Commandos Company and playing Victor the Butcher in Charles Clews' comedy classic Karmena Abdilla.

He retired officially in 1984, but continued to present programmes on radio and television for some years after that.

Victor Galdes was married to Pauline nee' Buttigieg. Charles Arrigo was the bestman at their wedding. Victor and Pauline had one child, Albert, who also established himself in the local broadcasting and entertainment scene.

(Died: 10 April 2004)

Ġużi Mallia was a prolific author and celebrated children's broadcaster known as In-Nannu Peppu.

Born in Hamrun on 21 June 1917, Ġużi Mallia studied at St Albert Central School. He was awarded the Senior Oxford certificate in 1935 and started working as a telephone operator and Assistant Protection Officer.

After spending a number of years working as a clerk, Mallia joined the Information Office in 1958 as a script-writer and later as Information Officer. He worked at the Department of Information until 1976. He was praised by the Governor of Malta on the Government Gazette dated 1 February 1944, for his sterling service.

Mallia became a contributing writer and broadcaster with Redifussion in 1951, producing and presenting children's programmes for a quarter of a century. He wrote various radio serials, documentaries and short stories. He also published a number of books.

(Died: 6 June 2004)

Arthur Podesta was an exceptionally well-known figure in waterpolo, swimming and sailing circuits.

Born on 27 December 1928, Podesta was the winner of many honours and protagonist of countless local sporting contests as the ever faithful Neptunes stalwart. He will perhaps be best remembered as a member of Malta's waterpolo team during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. He was the last surviving member of that squad, which also included his brother Wilfred. During that Olympics Malta played Britain (2-8), gold-medalists Hungary (0-12) and Yugoslavia (0-7).

Podesta was one of the athletes who carried the flag during the opening ceremony of the Games for the Small States of Europe at the Ta' Qali National Stadium in 2003. He was known to those closest to him as "Babsie".

(Died: 12 June 2004)

Willie Apap was a Sports Entrepreneur who was most active in the town of Gzira.

Apap was born in Valletta on 16 April 1919. From a very young age he started following different sport events. He was a committee member of the Ta' Xbiex Waterpolo Club, the Valletta United Waterpolo Club, the National Sportsmen of the Year, the Malta Boxing Association and the Malta Pool Association.

He organized a number of popular competitions, including canoe races, football games, tug-of-wars, professional wrestling matches and athletics. Willie Apap also organized the popular Strong Man Acts and endurance swimming challenges, during which, Albert Rizzo and Alfred Kitcher broke world records. He also introduced American Poll (the 8-Ball Game) in Malta.

Although he was born in Valletta, Willie Apap spent most of his life in Gzira. He was one of the founders of Gzira United FC and was appointed Honorary Club President in 1990. He was also a member of the Gzira Local Council.

(Died: 20 June 2004)

Dr Amante Buontempo was a Canon and a poet.

He was born at Senglea on 15 October 1920, and studied at the Lyceum, the Archbishop's Seminary, the Gozo Seminary, the Royal University of Malta, the University of Nottingham and at universities in Rome, from where he obtained his doctoral degrees, including a cum laude in Canon Law and Civil Law.

He was ordained priest in 1946. He taught at the Archbishop's Seminary and held a number of important posts within Malta's Archdiocese. He was the Parliament's chaplain between 1962 and 1971.

An avid writer in Maltese, English and Italian, Canon Buontempo published numerous books and poetry anthologies, including Ġejt Imsejjah (1967), Irbaħt (1968), Si Vis pacem Cane Semper (1973), Wishful Thoughts (1975), Lacrime di Speranza (1977), Echi di Sdegno (1981) and Rhythmical Reactions (1981). He was also the founder and first president of the Għaqda tal-Poeti (Poets' Union).

Dr Buontempo participated in the second and third World Poets Congress held in Formosa (1973) and Baltimore (1976). He also took part in the San Francisco congress in 1981, where he was awarded the 'Poet Laureate' from the World Academy of Art and Culture.

(Died: 7 July 2004)

Joe AquilinaJoe Aquilina was a footballer associated with Sliema Wanderers FC, mostly in the 1960s.

Born in Sliema on 21 July 1943, Aquilina started playing football at a very young age and made his debut with Sliema Wanderers in the 1959-1960 season. He played fourteen seasons for Sliema Wanderers and won four championship titles, three FA trophies, two Xmas Cup, a Sons of Malta Cup, three Independence Cup, a Testaferrata Cup and one MFA League.

He played 152 championship games, 64 local cup matches and 18 European cup games. Aquilina wore the national football shirt for two friendly matches, four international tournaments and for one game with the MFA XI.

After he stopped playing Aquilina coached Qormi FC, Zurrieq, Pembroke Athletics, Zebbug Rangers and Gzira United.

(Died: 31 July 2004)

Mario Ellul was an active singer and television producer between the early 1980s and the end of his life.

He was born on 8 September 1963 and studied at the De La Salle College and at the New Lyceum. During his studies at the New Lyceum he joined Xandir Malta as a student worker, becoming a full-time producer-director soon after. At Xandir Malta, Ellul produced and directed some of the most innovative Maltese programs and TV shows, including Arzella and Mill-Garaxx.

In the early 1990s Mario Ellul left Xandir Malta and joined BPC where he was responsible for the building of a new TV studio in Hamrun for Audiovision, a subsidiary of BPC. While at BPC, he also attended a TCV Direction Course in London.

Mario EllulEllul was also a poplar singer, actor and stage director. He sang with Fog and Mirage, two local rock bands and took part in numerous musicals, including Little Shop of Horrors, Ali Baba, Bastilja, Żeża tal-Flagship, Ulied In-Nanna Venut, Manwel! Manwel! and Il-Ħotbi ta' Notre Dame. Maltese TV viewers will also remember him as Bango in the TV series Villa Sunset, and as part of the cast for Dejjem Tieghek, Becky, a very poplar Maltese TV series.

He worked as a committee member of Maltasong, organizers of the Malta Song for Europe Festival, bringing his professional skills in stage management and television direction to good use.

His death from heart failure at such a young age prompted many tributes, including one by his former colleague Toni Sant, which is available online. [click here to read it now]

Mario Ellul was married to Grace and together thay had one child, Daniel.

(Died: 3 August 2004)

Maggie Borg was a pioneering Maltese activist for environmental and social rights.

She was born in Kalkara on 14 January 1952 to Carmel and Cettina nee' Camilleri. She was the second of their 10 children, the eldest daughter. She attended Cospicua Public School and later worked as a tourist guide. Borg married at a young age, becoming very supportive of her close friends and younger members of the family after her own marriage broke down.

Maggie BorgAfter living in Naxxar and Mosta, drifting between jobs with various companies, including Good Earth, she settled down in Zebbug and started studying once more after a gap of more than 25 years away from school. In 1993 she graduated with a degree in Sociology & Environmental Studies from the University of Malta. Subsequently she started teaching senior classes in her area of expertise at San Anton School. She was best known to her students as a kind, different and serene teacher who taught through her experience, especially in their ‘live-ins’.

She used to share all she had whether materialistic items or her incredibly vast knowledge on anything, from weaving wool and making her own little cottage industry, however this did not last long, as she used to give away most of her woven items, instead of selling them for a profit.

Maggie was a keen member of the Greenpeace movement and also traveled to other countries campaigning causes she believed in quite strongly.

She lost her battle against cancer at the age of 52, after fighting the disease for almost ten years.

(Died: 26 August 2004)

Vince Laus was a popular country music radio DJ.

Vince LausBorn in St Julians on 1 January 1945, Laus fell in love with country music when he was still a teenager. He moved to England in 1963, where he was able to follow country music more closely. He lived in the UK for 12 years, during which time he started to build his country music collection and also served as the Beach Boys Fan Club secretary.

When Vince returned to Malta in the late 1970s he wanted to make country music more popular amongst the Maltese. In October 1978, he launched the Country Music Appreciation Society, which had over 200 members at the time of his death. The CMAS lives on under the direction of co-founder Daphne Stevenson, Vince's wife.

Laus started broadcasting on the Libyan-Maltese radio station, Leħen il-Ħbiberija u Solidarjeta (Voice of Friendship and Solidarity), presenting a country music show. However, he took on a higher profile when he joined Super 1 Radio in August 1991. Later he also produced shows for Super 1 TV.

Vince Laus married 21 September 1969 after they were introduced to each other by British DJ Robbie Dale, following a public radio announcement that Vince was looking for "a friend". They had two children, Sherri and Duane.

(Died: 9 September 2004)

Louis Naudi was a versatile percussionist who died at a young age after a long illness. He had been active in the Maltese music scene since the early 1980s, when he played drums with the rock band Fog. Later he also played with the Voices band and the Acoustika trio, among others.

(Died: 12 November 2004)

Joe Zammit Cordina was a popular character actor.

He was born in Hamrun on 29 September 1929 and studied at the Seminary and the Lyceum. In 1949 he obtained the Oxford School Certificate and proceeded to attend St Michael's Training College and started teaching soon afterwards. He also worked as a scriptwriter at the Central Office of Information and at the Department of Information.

He studied educational broadcasting at the Centre for Educational Television Overseas in London. After the three-month course in London, he returned to Malta where he joined the Education Department as Education Welfare Officer. He duties included editing the monthly magazine The Young Listener.

Joe Zammit CordinaZammit Cordina started acting in 1944. Twenty years later he founded his company Malta Talent Artists, which was often entrusted with recruiting Maltese extras to appear in foreign films shot in Malta. In 1978 he started publishing the magazine Pepprin, a series of photo-novels, with titles like Harry Born's Is-Salib tal-Fidda and Ġuże Ellul Mercer's Leli ta' Ħaż-Żgħir proving to be huge popular successes.

Zammit Cordina took part in numerous radio and television programmes aired on Redifussion, Xandir Malta and some of today's main Maltese TV stations. He featured on a number of Malta-shot films, including Eyewitness, Pulp and Midnight Express, where he also uttered a few short sentences in Maltese, playing the part of a Turkish customs officer.

He was also a painter and his works can be found in private households and church sacristies around Malta. Between 1998 and 2002 he was the Mayor of Hamrun. He was married to Mary Yvonne and had two children.

(Died: 12 November 2004)

Publius Micallef was a recording engineer with Radio Malta.

His name was known to all regular listeners of Maltese radio because he was one of a handful of professional recorders who took charge of balancing most of the radio programmes recorded for Maltese listeners.

(Died: 2 December 2004)

Ġuźeppi Schembri, known as It-Trioplin, was a mainstay for Floriana FC for almost sixty years, as well as the national football team.

Guzeppi SchembriHe was born in Balzunetta at Floriana on 9 May 1921, and was attracted to the game from a very early age. In the early 1930s The Greens had a formidable team and Guzeppi, like many other youngsters from Floriana, was easily attracted to the game.At the age of 18 he became Floriana’s official kit-manager. After that, his name was forever linked with that of Floriana F.C. Many Floriana old-timers still remember Guzeppi playing the bugle whenever the Ajaxs were playing. In rare moments when the team was struggling, Giuzeppi’s bugel call would revive the players and spur them on to greater efforts.

When SK Hajduks toured the Island in 1944, the MFA found itself in a spot. Because of the war, the MFA did not have a set of jerseys to use against the visitors, Luckily for them, Ġuźeppi came to the rescue. During the war he served in the 3rd Battalion KOMR and since he was still in uniform he borrowed a set of jerseys from his regiment and loaned them to the MFA. This was the start of a long and happy association with the National Team. From that day on, he became the MFA’s Official Kit-Manager, until his retirement in 1992. Carmelo Gauci, known as "Il-Busby" succeeded Ġuźeppi who gladly passed on his knowledge about all the players problems and their individual sizes.

He was presented with an award in recognition of his work during UEFA's annual Gala in Monaco in August 2002. The award, known as The Magnificent 7, was also presented to six personalities coming from France, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Spain and Sweden. His nomination was accepted by UEFA following the personal recommendation of the Malta Football Association President Dr. Joseph Mifsud.

Ġuźeppi was married to Maria and together they had seven children: Marlene, Charles, Jennifer, Stephen, Raymond, Patrick, and Shelley.

(Died: 31 December 2004)

Remiğ Sacco was a sports journalist and writer who worked mostly within the Workers' Movement.

He was born in Zurrieq on 13 May 1922 to Leonard Sacco u Francesa nee' Ellul. As a young boy he attended the local primary school and later studied at the Lyceum, De La Salle College, and the Dockyard Technical College, where he acquire diplomas in Electrical Draughtsmanship (1958) u Engineering Design (1968). Sacco work at the Dockyard for 25 years, mostly as an Electrical Draughtsman.

Remig SaccoThroughout the 1950s he was also very active on the sports desk for the Times of Malta and the various newspapers of the Union Press. He eventually established the newspaper Sport, and served as its editor, within the Union Press until 1966, when he joined the Rediffusion Group, working mainly in the Radio and Television News Division as editor for Parliamentary Affairs. In 1978, after national broadcasting was taken over by Xandir Malta, he became the editor of the programme guide and magazine Gwida.

His contribution to all publications of the Workers' Movement was extensive, beyond the newspaper sports pages. Besides political commentary he also wrote various humourous pieces for the satirical papers Il-Ġannett and Ix-Xewka. As an active member of the Workers' Movement he served as a long-term member of the General Workers' Union National Council, Acting Secretary of the National Association of Clerical & Supervisory Staff within the GWU, as well as member of the National Executive of the Malta Labour Party. He was also a member of the Maltese-Soviet Friendship Cultural Society, where he served as PRO, secretary and Vice President, at various times after 1975, visiting the Soviet Union regularly with Maltese groups.

Sacco worked closely with the Workers' Movement publishing house Sensiela Kotba Socjalisti, which published some of his books, including Iz-Zurrieq Kif Ghextu Jien: 1922-1945, Ix-Xandir f'Malta, L-Unjoni Sovjetika mir-Rivoluzzjoni and L-Elezzjonijiet f'Malta: 1849-1986.

Remiğ Sacco married Theresa nee' Parascandalo at the Birzebbuga parish church on 21 October 1944. Together they had six children: Charles, Denise, Ninette, Leonard, Paul, and Frank.

Mario Axiaq, Pierre J. Mejlak, Remo Mifsud and Toni Sant contributed to this page.


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