Clifford Neville Galanis

Clifford Neville Galanis

6/15/2012 12:33:49 AM
Clifford Neville Galanis was born in Staniard Creek, Andros on March 15, 1934 to the late Zelma Mae Antonio of Andros, and the late Drosos Galanos of Kalimnos, Greece. As an infant, he and his mother moved to Nassau, where he grew up and spent the remainder of his life. During the Great Depression his mother was forced to move to The United States for several years, to work on “The WPA Contract,” and he was left in the care of his maternal, aunt, “Aunt Ross” with whom he maintained a close bond until her death.

Cliff was educated in the public schools of Nassau – Western Prep, Western Junior, and Eastern Senior Schools respectively. Having being abandoned by his father, and growing up in extreme poverty, financial constraints prevented him from attending high school. Instead, he was forced to seek employment in order to help his mother pay rent, put food on the table, and make ends meet. At the age of thirteen, he found his first job at The Nassau Hobby Horse Race Track where he initially fed and walked horses, and eventually became a jockey. Thus began his lifelong love of horses and horse racing. Although Cliff loved the race track (where he was called “Sacks”) and established many lifelong friendships there, he realized that this work was seasonal, and that it did not provide prospects for much advancement, or for a long-term career. Cliff decided, therefore, to further his education, which he saw as key to achieving his goals. He enrolled in Evening Classes under the tutelage of the late great educator, Donald Davis, and eventually completed a high school equivalency. Years later, after sending many of his children to college, he too went back to school to continue his formal education, enrolling at Florida International University. In 1984, at the age of fifty, he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Engineeering with Honors.

At the age of 15, while still enrolled in Evening Classes, Cliff began working at Taylor Industries. Over the next seven years, he learned the installation and repair of electrical equipment and systems. In 1956, he joined the Maintenance Staff at the now defunct Emerald Beach Hotel, where he participated in the repair and upkeep of all electrical, refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Three years later, he was offered and accepted the position of Assistant Chief Engineer at The Nassau Beach Hotel. By 1965, he had passed both the Single-Phase, and the Triple- Phase Electical Contractor’s Examinations, making him a licensed Three-Phase electrical contractor. In 1967, he was promoted to Chief Engineer at The Nassau Beach Hotel, and held that position for the next thirteen years. After a total of twenty years at The Nassau Beach Hotel, he accepted a position as Director of Engineeering of Resorts International on Paradise Island, thus becoming the first Bahamian to occupy that position, which included responsibility for two major hotels and the casino. In 1992, at the request of George Myers, President of the Myers Group, Cliff moved to The Radisson Cable Beach Hotel, where he served as Director of Engineering until his retirement in 2000 due to ill health.

At the age of 17, Cliff was introduced to Zoe Neely, by his good friend, Earl Thompson. He fell in love with her immediately, but was warned that she was “off limits” because of her much higher social status. While Zoe, who was then 15 years of age, was not concerned about his social standing, she was simply not interested in him. Despite many fruitless attempts, he persisted in pursuing her, and eventually won her heart and her hand in marriage. The couple wed on the morning of February 17, 1954 here at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral. The newly-weds honeymooned at her Aunt Pearl’s beach house in Adelaide (on the south-western end of the island) and traveled there on a motorbike, which he borrowed from his good friend, the late Cecil Miller. Zoe brought class, culture and religion to his life. She also bore him nine children – Philip, Anthony, Stephen, Claudette, Bernadette, Clifford, Marcian, Paul, and Shannon, most of whom he delivered personally, and all of whom he collectively referred to as “my babies,” even up to the end, when they were all grown. Cliff was an excellent provider, serving as the family’s sole breadwinner for 48 of his 58 years of marriage and fatherhood – a task which involved caring for his wife and nine children, as well as his ailing mother; and a task under which lesser men may easily have crumbled. But not Cliff. He never once shirked his responsibility, making sure that all needs were met, and many wants as well. By the age of 25, not only had he borrowed and repaid the loan with which he was able to buy a piece of property, but he had also built a home for his family on it, with his own hands. He was an attentive, and meticulous husband who absolutely adored Zoe. He often said that she could have done so much better by marrying someone else. She never agreed with that suggestion. Nor did their children. He was extremely protective of Zoe and affectionate toward her, constantly complimenting her beauty, her goodness, her warm and generous spirit, her cooking skills. He often spoke of her total dedication to him, especially in the last few years when his physical debility demanded her constant care, effort, and attention. He truly appreciated her, and sang her praises to whomever would listen, even up the the last few minutes that he spoke.

Cliff was a hands-on father, who often rushed home to wash diapers or help with homework, even after working an extremely long and hard day. He set high standards for his children and led by example. He emphasized education, and ensured that all nine of his children either went to college, flight school or both. He and Zoe insisted that their children be given constant spiritual nourishment. The family never missed Sunday Mass, and after retirement, he and Zoe often attended Daily Mass until he was no longer physically able to do so. Such manner of man was he that on a daily basis, when he arrived home at the end of the day, his wife and children, dropped whatever thay were doing, and excitedly ran to greet him, racing to see who could be the first to hug and kiss him. While his arms were big enough to wrap around all of his children, and frequently did, he always ensured that Zoe won that daily race, - a not so sublte reminder that she was first in his life. She remained so until the end.

Cliff loved to travel, and ensured that his family got to experience foreign lands and different cultures. He and Zoe took many trips together, including visits to The Holy Land, The Vatican, Egypt, and Greece. From his early childhood, he was an avid sportsman, and lover of nature. He played softball, rode and raised horses, and enjoyed hunting, as well as boating and fishing. He absolutely loved the ocean, and spent many a day fishing with his sons, Philip, Stephen and Paul, and lately with his daughter, Claudette. He also spent a lot of time with his close friends, Eugene Iphill, Stafford Moss, Hubert Dean, Cecil Smith, Emery Symonette, and the late Ken Francis, anchored over the Reef, or off Coral Harbor, fishing and having fun.. He regarded Basil Johnson, whom he called “Captain Rusty,” as a special friend, and often described him as “true blue” – always thoughtful and dependable. He especially loved and repected his brother-in-law, Michael Neely, and often spoke about him with pride, referring to him as his little brother.

Beginning in 1991, Cliff suffered severe and chronic back pain which resulted in three major back surgeries, the most recent of which was performed at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in 2006. None of these procedures alleviated his pain, however, and he sometimes referred to his pain as his “constant and ever-present friend.” In addition, in 1997, he suffered a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery. In recent years, the progressive deterioration of his back and lower extremities, rendered him unable to walk. This handicap however, did not prevent him from living a full and vibrant life. Nor did it affect his sharp mind. He remained able to speak at length, on any subject that arose, and to offer sound advice to anyone who was wise enough to seek it.

On the evening of May 21, 2012, Cliff developed a bleeding ulcer which landed him in the ICU of Doctor’s Hospital. Despite initially improving, he soon suffered a setback which led from one complication to another, and eventually to his final demise. He fought hard to recover, but God’s plan was otherwise. Around the midnight hour, on June 6, 2012, in the presence of his beloved wife, his children, and his grandchildren, he transitioned peacefully from this life to the next, to meet his God and finally get his crown.

While Cliff never sought recognition, nor needed accolades, those who knew him, worked with him, lived with him, and loved him, knew him to be a good, decent, and humble man, who quietly accepted his earthly assignment, performed it to his greatest ability without excuses or fanfare, played his part, made his contribution, and then exited quietly in the still of the night. He will be sorely missed by the many persons whose life he touched, and by those who had the privilege of experiencing his love, his generosity, his wisdom, and his strength.

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