Obituary written by Julia Gaw, National Chairman, George Cross Island Association.
It is with my deepest regret that I have to inform you of the passing of our former President Michael Refalo who died on 3rd February 2015 following a long illness which he fought to the bitter end.
Michael was a proud man of high integrity and intellect, greatly admired who did much to help the Association especially when we had some difficulties a few years back, which a lesser man would not have entertained. He was his own man with sound judgement and would never feint from a problem but face it head on not caring if he upset a few people along the way if he thought it was right.
Whilst in the post of The High Commissioner for Malta here in the UK, before he became the President of the GCIA he took time out to attend a large number of Branch AGM’s up and down the country with his charming wife Blanche in support of the Association. He will be sadly missed and his legacy speaks for itself.
A few words from our President Joe Galea Debono who represented the G.C.I.A. at his funeral.
I write to convey my own and Mary’s as well as the National Council’s sincere and heartfelt condolences at the passing away of our former President and friend Michael Refalo. Michael had done a great deal to keep this Association alive both before he became its President during his term as High Commissioner in London and subsequently when we were honoured to have him as our President until ill health compelled him to hand over the baton to me.
His calm and objective leadership helped steer the Association through some difficult times and he was always there to guide us with the benefit of his experience and clear headed thinking. As you are aware, my dealings with Michael on a personal level go much further back in time when, as a freshman at University, I used to look up to him; a seasoned law student in his final year and President of the Students Representative Council. Later, as colleagues at the bar, he was always an honest and loyal opponent whenever we found ourselves on opposite sides of the court room and it was indeed a pleasure to work with him whenever we happened to be defending the same client.
Then, as Secretary General of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association I always found in him a great help when he was first shadow minister for Tourism, then Parliamentary Secretary and subsequently Minister for Tourism, when I had the honour to have him as my minister as Chairman of the National Tourism Organisation. As such my own bereavement goes beyond the ordinary and is one based on a deep and long-lasting friendship. We shall always remember him in our prayers.
Michael Refalo was laid to rest in the family grave at the Addolorata Cemetery 11.30am in the presence of his close relatives and friends. His interment followed Mass in a packed to overflowing Stella Maris Parish Church where the arrival of the coffin at 9.30am was greeted by the Stella Maris Band playing funeral tunes. Dr. Refalo was at one time the President of the Band Club. The service was of course attended by high ranking politicians from the Nationalist Party and representatives of all Maltese high institutions, fellow lawyers, and hundreds of his former constituents and friends. Although the obituary in The Times said "No flowers by request" the Church was flooded with wreaths and flower bouquets and these filled to capacity the luggage booths of a fleet of hired cars which followed the hearse to the
Joe Galea Debono. President George Cross Island Association