York Loreto John
LORETO JOHN YORK
Loreto John York was the first Maltese to be elected Mayor of an Australian city. He was a Councillor of the City of Brunswick, Melbourne, for six years and Mayor in 1972-73 and again 1976-77.
Born at Sliema, Malta, on 14 December 1918, his parents Salvu (Tan-Nassi) Meilak and Loreta (Tal-Cagu) Mercieca were from Gozo. His brothers and sisters were born at Ghajnsielem but by the time Loreto was born, the family had moved to Sliema.
In 1940, Loreto volunteered in Malta for war service with the Royal Air Force. He saw service in Malta, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, France and Great Britain. He was with the RAF in Great Britain after the war and changed his name from Meilak to York. He married his London-born wife, Olive Turner in 1947. Their son Barry was born in London in 1951 and the family migrated to Melbourne in 1954.
Loreto, or Larry as he became known, worked in factories in the cosmetic industry and was active in the Storemen and Packers Union.
He is a Life Governor of the Brunswick and Coburg Boys and Girls Club and a Life Governor of Mount Royal Special Hospital for the Aged in Parkville, Melbourne. During the 1970s, he chaired both the Salvation Army and the Red Cross Appeals and in 1984-85 chaired the 150th Anniversary of Victoria celebrations for the City of Brunswick. He was Chairman of the Brunswick District Boy Scouts for 16 years and a Justice of the Peace for Victoria for 20 years.
Among his achievements in local government was the introduction of family planning services for the predominantly migrant working class population of Brunswick.