Friends and family of the late Frank Virgona attended a celebration of his life at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Mildura on Thursday afternoon.
The service was conducted by Father James Kerr with the eulogy prepared by Cheryn Cavallaro with mourners welcomed to the service by the music of the children’s TV show “The Paddlewheelers” the first children’s program on Channel 8 back in 1965.
Mr Virgona was born in Sunraysia in May 1926 and attended local schools before taking some jobs with the PMG and Maples before at 18, joining the family Ice Cream Factory and Ice Works in Mildura.
It is for entertainment that Mr Virgona will be forever remembered. He played banjo, mandolin and piano.
He was a magician and a ventriloquist with his doll “Freddie” which was then donated to the Mildura Historical Society collection of memorabillia three years ago.
The late Frank Virgona was the first local entertainer on local TV – he appeared regularly on the Paddlewheelers program and through the family ice cream factory presented at birthday tome a tub of ice cream to each child who was a member of the Paddlewheelers Club.
He also taught music to many youngsters in the district.
In 1971 he joined Mildura Rotary and was a member right up until his passing last week on the very day of a Mildura Rotary Club regular meeting.
He was chair of Fellowship at Rotary and served four years as a Board of Director and helped entertain and organise the Club’s 45th anniversary celebration.
He had been introduced to Rotary through business with Arthur Weir (from Weir’s Dairy) bringing him along. Weir’s supplied milk to the ice cream factory, operated by the Virgona’s.
Frank Virgona was the youngest of four children. His great niece Jacinta Macri sang at his funeral yesterday.
Pallbearers were Gary Pretty, John Petty, Angy Fikaris, Joe Cavallaro, Paul Petty and Larry Macri.