Greg Chronopoulos was born in 1926 in Vartholomio, Illias, in the west Peloponesse in a district near ancient Olympia. His earliest memories are of a wonderful and happy childhood but World War II and the Civil War brought immense hardship and struggle to his family. When he was 21 years of age, he joined the army and served as a Reserve Officer Lieutenant in Korea from 1951. While in Korea, he developed two relationships that would later inspire great change in his life. He wrote to thank an Australian Greek woman who had sent parcels of magazines and socks to the Greek troops in Korea and they became friends. He also started corresponding with a Greek woman with whom he made a contact through Readers Digest and this evolved into a twenty year “special relationship”.
Upon his return to Greece, Greg realised that his family and Greece in general were still suffering from the impact of war. Being the only boy in the family, he felt responsible to support his relatives. Greg made the decision to migrate and send money back home. He wrote to his Australian pen pal asking to be sponsored by her and her husband, and in 1955 Greg boarded a ship to Australia to start a new life. He was heartbroken to be leaving Greece, but his sense of duty to help his parents and sisters financially was a priority.
Greg’s early years in Australia were difficult and quite unsettling. At first, he got a job as a factory worker at General Motors Holden and took up employment with Dunlop Pillows, but in his spare time, he sought a challenge by writing for a Greek newspaper. The writing became his escape from the monotony of the job he was doing and a way of preserving his Greek heritage and culture. It was not until the mid-1970s that he was able to secure work that was more fulfilling such as at the Greek Consulate, as a travel agent and as a Community Liaison Officer for the Health Insurance Commission (HIC) for 14 years.
While working at HIC, Greg became very involved with his own community by teaching Greek at Macquarie University, writing a column for a Greek newspaper and producing and presenting three SBS Radio programs. After retiring, he worked part-time at the Greek Welfare Centre for 18 months. He felt he had finally found his true vocation, which gave him not only an immense personal satisfaction, but earned him great respect and many devoted friends in the Greek community in Sydney!
Extract from Migrant Heritage Centre NSW | For full biography please refer to Greek tab
Gregory Chronopoulos with his mother, Ioanna, and siter Zoi, in 1985. In 1956 Gregory sponsored his sister and her fiance to Australia. [Ο Γρηγόρης Χρονόπουλος με την μητέρα του Ιωάννα και την αδελφή του Ζωή, το 1985]