Community icon passes away

George Lucič was a beloved member of the community.
George was known for his humour, stubbornness and friendliness. Photo Ma Ya.

A beloved icon of the east Auckland community has passed away.

Goran (George) Lucič ,73, was ‘world famous’ in Pakuranga for his friendly demeanour, beautiful food and affinity to give his customers nicknames.

George arrived to New Zealand in 1965 from Croatia months before his 18th birthday.

He ran Edgewater Takeaways with his wife Glenda for 43 years, with whom he was married for 48 years.

He lived in east Auckland since 1978.

George’s son-in-law, Craig Clark, who is married to his eldest daughter Fiona, says the business was set in the Edgewater block of shops.

“He had three generations of customers,” Clark says.

“He gave everyone nicknames. You were ‘George’, ‘Curly’, ‘Louie’, ‘Blue Eyes’, and ‘Boss’.”

Locals echoed these sentiments on social media.

“George always talked to his customers and called me Curly like many others,” one wrote.

Another wrote, “I grew up going to see George and being called ‘Curly’ and he was continuing that tradition now with my son which brought us so many smiles and giggles.”

Clark told the Times George was funny, cheeky, community-minded, had a green thumb, and was loyal and family-focused.

“He loved doing things for people,” he says. “He was a wonderful father-in-law.”

George passed away on August 14.

He’d been unwell for around five months, Clark says, and had spent four months in the hospital.

“We are glad that he is free from any pain now,” he says.

“He left a giant hole in our lives. There are a lot of devastated people.”

When George’s death was reported to the community on social media, there were over 260 comments expressing condolences to his family and sharing memories of what George meant to them.

This showcases the reach and impact George had on the community.

“Whenever we are at the shop there are always people stopping to say hi and express their sadness and pass on their condolences,” Clark says.

“A lot of tears have been shed. He loved being in the heart of the community.”

A decade ago George suffered a cardiac arrest while driving to the shop.

One of the first people on the scene was a man who was able to give him immediate CPR.

Another was a woman who was an emergency department nurse with medical equipment in her car.

George had 45 minutes of CPR and 13 shots of the defibrillator.

“It goes without saying the medical staff was amazed at how well he recovered!” Clark says.

“He was back at the shop within a few months.

“His stubbornness would simply not allow him to roll over and give up his shop.

“He was back there within a few months.”

Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 lockdown, George’s family is unable to hold his funeral as planned. “We will definitely have a funeral in the weeks to come when we are at a level where we can welcome his family and many friends,” Clark says.

George grew many varieties of vegetables, loved joking around, great food, music and his home-made red wine

He was able to see both his daughters get married and spend time with his grand-daughter Georgia, his namesake.

There’s expected to be about 200 people at his funeral with many more watching from overseas on the live stream.

“He was a huge personality and deserves a huge send off!” Clark says.