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DeVito, Giousue (Joe) (1911–1979)

by Max Foster

Being one of the very large assembly at the mass and burial service of the late Joe DeVito, having come to pay homage to a man we as individuals, had cause to remember in some way, either as a member of the family, a relative, a friend or acquaintance, each in our way reflecting on how Joe had had some part in our lives.

We were there to offer our respects to a man who during his lifetime had to overcome many a prejudice and the odd hurt, but who throughout his life, showed by the simple expedient of being himself, a warm and industrious person who above all had a love and compassion for his fellow man.

In tracing Joe's history, he was born in Italy, January 1st, 1911, we find him at the outer harbour in 1927 straight off a ship, an unaccompanied 16 year old, unable to speak our language and to meet a father he had not seen for several years.

Here he was to commence a new life, which was the humble beginning of a love affair with his adopted country. This love did not ever dim.

After a short sojourn picking cherries in the Adelaide Hills on the property of our one time revered Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, Joe came to Waikerie shortly after to join his father. His first employer was George Fulwood, the late father of local identities John, Brian and Bob.

From there Joe progressed until he returned to Italy in 1936 and married his wife Iolanda, and on their return to Waikerie settled down and commenced one of those success stories, which was principally brought about by a compelling desire to succeed, even though in the face of the then great depression and the many racial prejudices then existing.

Succeed Joe and Iolanda did, by their sheer hard work, common sense and logic and their love of the land, with it's ability to create when tendered by someone who cares. The exhausting hours worked then, no doubt, in some measure could be part responsible for Joe's fatal illness at far too an earlier age of 68 years.

Perhaps the war years took a far greater toll of Joe than realised, his mother country being at war with England precluding him from serving with our forces. Joe has always held a very high regard for this countries soldiers, sailors and airmen, he himself being the son of a returned soldier, who served in the 1914-18 great war fighting for Italy who was allied to Great Britain.

Joe's father, Cosmo, finally holding the great distinction of being promoted a 'Cavalier' for this service.

As a most practical, resourceful, humane man, Joe, set out after the war years to give to Waikerie what he felt was his due. Among those to receive benefit were the Catholic Brethren who saw their St. Thomas Moore Church a reality. A project not possible to such standards without Joe's drive energies and resources.

Whenever a Queen competition was mooted, and in those days they were many and necessary to benefit the community, Joe was there giving all he could, his daughters being at times in the fore front of the activities as queen entrants and the worthy Miss Waikerie Queens.

Joe became the president of Bacchus and Bowling clubs and served with distinction. Joe was unable to complete out his days as a player at the Bowling club, but he remained a dedicated member of the Rotary being created a life member for the services he rendered.

It is not necessary to detail all of Joe's activities, nor would he have wanted it said, but it would be remiss not to mention the great amount of time Joe spent, and how invaluable his services were, as the unpaid interpreter for the benefit of the essential services as:— medical officer, police officers, and the like whose job would have been nigh on impossible without such help. Suffice to say if every town had a Joe DeVito they would be worthily served.

Fortunately Joe was able, with his wife Iolanda, to revisit Italy and to see other parts of the world, being his due and just reward. But he was always grateful to come back home to Waikerie, to his beloved home and to the loyalty of his family.

On his passing Joe left his considerable holdings in the hands of his two sons, Cosmo and Tony, which to his family will always remain a memorial to Joe's untiring efforts, and the reflection of his (Joes) faith in Waikerie.

As a man Joe will be missed, his accumulation of worldly goods did in no way change him. He will be remembered as a humble man proud of his achievements, and worthy of being recognised as one of our most worthy citizens.

Joe left his widow Iolanda, sons Cosmo and Tony, and daughters Teresa, Agnes, Anna and Rita. Vale Joe.

Original publication

  • River News (Waikerie, SA), 14 June 1979, p 8

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Citation details

Max Foster, 'DeVito, Giousue (Joe) (1911–1979)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/devito-giousue-joe-13400/text24048, accessed 24 June 2019.

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