- by Floyd Kermode
- The Guardian
- Issue #2075
Community and political activist, union delegate and shop steward, Victorian Party President, ACTU delegate, passionate about family and sport, always a warm, wise, and generous comrade, Savvas Lioupas enriched the lives of family, friends, and comrades.
Savvas Lioupas was born 29th November 1942, in Neo Petritsi, Serres Greece. He left home as a very young man in his teens, and worked in restaurants before becoming a tailor. Savvas joined the Greek Communist Party, the KKE, because he saw a Party newspaper which told his story and that of other young men, moving from villages to towns at a time when life was very hard in Greece.
In Greece, Savvas married Mary Kalaitzis. He was in the KKE at a time when the party was illegal and was operating underground, so at first he didn’t tell Mary about his membership, not wanting to endanger her. Savvas fondly remembered the time when she found out and scolded him for keeping the secret!
In 1969, as political activists, Savvas and Mary had to leave Greece and came to Australia to escape the Greek dictatorship and its threats.
Their commitment to workers was as strong as ever, and they soon joined the Greek Democritus Workers’ League, and the newly formed Socialist Party of Australia (precursor to the modern Communist Party of Australia, or CPA) in 1972.
In Melbourne Savvas and Mary worked as clothing workers, and both were strong union members. Savvas became a very committed shop steward, working hard to improve his members’ wages and conditions. At one point, he successfully negotiated back payment of wages that had been underpaid over a period of 30 years.
Andrew Irving, CPA General Secretary said of Savvas:
“For all of my life in the Party I have known and appreciated the commitment of Mary and Savvas. Mary and Savvas were our senior veterans but never retired, contributing to Party meetings, education, and organising activists. They were the most reliable and hardworking comrades, a powerhouse in managing the Party’s major events. Mary and Savvas were the biggest fundraisers, sellers of function and raffle tickets, Guardian distributors and donors. Through all the difficult times for the Party, Mary and Savvas have given long-term leadership, with determination, political commitment, and strength.”
To quote another Melbourne comrade:
“I’ve known Savvas (and Mary) for decades but don’t know much about him except to say he was an exemplary and dedicated communist and Party member … Savvas was a leader amongst comrades, especially the Greek comrades. He was intelligent, hard-working for the cause and perceptive – just the kindest and the best person. I admired and loved him dearly.”
For some time, from 1990 to 2010, Savvas and Mary ran a takeaway shop in Clayton. This meant long hours of hard work, but they were always available for CPA and Democritus functions.
All the while, Savvas always took a strong party position. He successfully sold the Guardian at his workplace, and at other workplaces such as the MUA.
Aside from work and Party matters, Savvas was always passionate about his sport and particularly his football teams; PAOK Thessaloniki and Heidelberg United FC. He and Mary always attended Heidelberg home games together, both dressed in their team scarves and beanies.
I met Savvas as Party President, chairing meetings with authority and compassion. He didn’t speak a lot at Party meetings then, but when he did, it was always serious and well worth listening to. Savvas was always energetic about the Party, and would insist on passing a cup for contributions at any Party get-together, no matter how small. When I visited his house this year, he would always quickly serve up some Greek coffee and a biscuit, and talk about Mary, his family, and his life in Greece and Australia.
Savvas leaves behind his children: John, Jenny and Adrian, and his grandchildren: Mary, Savvas, Xavier and Portia.