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Steve proved them wrong

Love story: The late Steve Koulis, of Steve Koulis Smash Repairs, pictured with his wife of 55 years, Eva. The Greece-born businessman passed away on Sunday after a long battle with cancer. He was 74.
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THE life of Newcastle business owner,family man and mentor SteveKoulis was remembered at a ceremony at St Demetrios Church, Hamilton, on Friday.

Mr Koulis’ name has been synonymous with the smash repairs trade ever since heopenedSteve Koulis Smash Repairs on Griffiths Road, Broadmeadow, in 1971.

He lost his long battle with cancer on Sunday. He was 74.

Born in 1941 inGreece on an island called Samos, Steve came to Australiawhen he was 14 years old.

Steve proved them wrong TweetFacebook Steve Koulis rememberedHe could not speak, reador write English. But he learned, and later would often actas a translator for other members of the Greek community in Newcastle.

Steve played trumpet in a band that played at weddings, and he worked as a taxi driver, a driving instructor, and a wood machinist prior to enrolling in a panel beating course at Newcastle Technical College.

But panel beating was not his first choice.

He had wanted to do a mechanic course, but itwas already at capacity.

Despite his teacher telling him a panel beating apprenticeship was a “gentleman’s” coursethat he would never “do much with”, Steve proved him wrong.

After operating a small business out of a rented shed in Broadmeadow for six years, he opened Steve Koulis Smash Repairs at its current location on Griffiths Road in 1971.

The successful enterprise went on tosponsorthe Newcastle Knights and the Hamilton Olympic soccer team for many years.

Steve was big on family.

He met his wife of 55 years, Eva, while she was still at school.

Mrs Koulis laughed as she recalled their elopement.

“We were just kids. After three years together,we got married. We eloped, actually.

“I’m Hungarian and Steve was Greek, and there were some problems with that. But my father-in-law went to Melbourne for a wedding, and while he was gone, Steve said, ‘I want to marry you.’”

They were married ona Tuesday night, withjust a few close friends as witnesses.

“I was only 18, and he was 20. No one thought it was going to last, but it did last.It was avery successful marriage,” Mrs Koulis said.

Their children George, Elizabeth and Anita will remember Steve asa kind, loving father who always put them first.

As stressful and difficult running a business could be, when Stevearrived home, hewas all about his family.

Steve was also a keen fisherman, and a member of Newcastle Pistol Club for more than 20 years.

“He was a very ambitious and hardworking man,” Mrs Koulis said.“He was an achiever. He had a lovely personality and he loved what he did.We’ll miss him a lot.”

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