A true Charleville innovator
Victor Noel Calcino Western Queensland businessman and advocate Born: January 7, 1929, Charleville Died: October 9, 2012, Gold Coast
VIC Calcino’s life was largely shaped by the fact his father died when Vic was eight.
He and his two siblings were raised in Charleville by their mother, Elsie, who also was operating the Charleville Motor & Engineering Works, a large business her late husband, Albert, had established.
After completing primary school in Charleville, Vic went to boarding school in Brisbane.
At Churchie in 1943-44, he excelled at gymnastics, football and boxing.
People who knew Vic, a quiet man, would be surprised to hear he was a pugilist. He used to admire the sport, not for the aggression, but for the skill.
He had three professional fights at Brisbane’s Festival Hall, before realising that it was ‘‘a difficult way to make money’’ and retiring undefeated.
He played rugby league for Easts under-18s in Brisbane in 1947. In 1950, he was voted the Best and Fairest Player for all the football teams in Charleville.
After school, he worked at Queensland Trustees in Brisbane then at the Redbank meatworks.
Mr Calcino always wanted to start his own successful business, something his father and paternal grandfather – who, as a young man, emigrated from Italy in 1876 – had done.
In 1948, he returned to Charleville and briefly worked at Charleville Motors, but ‘‘just got in the road’’.
Aged 19, he rented an old tin shed where he opened his first business, selling airline passenger tickets and loading freight and luggage.
Soon after he changed the name of the business to Home Service Centre and sold furniture and white goods.
Mr Calcino operated this business, one of the largest retail businesses west of the Great Dividing Range, until he sold it in 1993.
In 1951, he married Pam Armstrong and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last December. Their four children were born in Charleville between 1953 and 1964.
Mr Calcino was an optimist. A few days after the 1990 Charleville flood had destroyed his business and ruined his home, he said: ‘‘There will be some opportunities here, so let’s get cracking.’’ He and other locals flew to Brisbane soon after the flood and successfully lobbied the Premier for support.
He had an entrepreneurial spirit that suited his optimism.
He was among the first people in Australia to introduce jukeboxes and pinball machines, which he placed around southwest Queensland.
He also operated electronic games, slot-car racing and icemaking machines, and sold metal detectors by mail order.
His video rental business was established very soon after the concept arrived in the country. He also bought a jewellery store in Charleville, but they were sidelines to the main retail business, Home Service Centre.
He was an innovator and used business techniques that were novel at the time. He held an annual Christmas promotion where the winner’s name was drawn live on air on the local radio station. It was eagerly anticipated by locals.
Mr Calcino was heavily involved in the Charleville community and never lost his affection for the town. He was a Justice of the Peace, a long-time member of Lodge, Rotary, the Charleville Chamber of Commerce and the Church of Eng- land. He was instrumental in establishing Waroona Aged Care Facility in Charleville. He enjoyed travel. One of the highlights of his life was when he and sons David and John backpacked through Italy and Turkey in 2005, when he was 76.
They visited the town of the first Calcino to go to Australia, Sommariva del Bosco in northern Italy.
They attended the 90th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, spending a freezing night standing with thousands of other mostly young people waiting for the dawn service. That was an emotional event.
The saddest time of the family’s life came in 1988 when they lost their third child, Michael.
Their retirement to their house on a lake at Robina, on the Gold Coast, in 1993 heralded 19 years of contentment.
Mr Calcino traded shares, looked after his business interests in Charleville and fed the local wildlife.
A quiet, unassuming man, he is survived by his wife Pam, sons David and John, daughter Deborah Thorburn, and their families.