“‘Aw Cefai!’ was how my children, my friends and the undersigned lovingly greeted Lino every time we saw him,” tenor Joseph Calleja wrote in a Facebook post, “This trend, started by our fraternal friend Michael, became a trademark phrase every time we met. He used to love it, throwing back a beaming smile whilst gleefully showing us the bottle of wines (like all of his friends, he was a huge wine lover and collector) he had brought with him, often alongside some Gozitan ‘ġbejniet‘ for all of us to enjoy during our long lunches.”
Calleja continued to write that Cefai was a man of contradictions – quiet and reserved at times, but often also extrovert and joyful, especially in the company of his close friends. Both astute businessmen and visionaries, he and his late business partner Ino, built a thriving business in the Gozitan hospitality sector from nothing.
“He took great pride in the latter, especially in their restaurant of ‘Ta’ Frenc’, but as a man of incredible modesty, he took success in his stride and never let it go to his head. I was also honoured to have him on the board of the BOV/Joseph Calleja Foundation in which he always showed unfailing interest and dedication. He seldom missed a board meeting or an interview panel, and he took great satisfaction in our scholars’ many achievements, following up on their successes and even helping them out whenever he could,” said Calleja, who sent his heartfelt condolences to his daughter Sophia, his sister Connie and the rest of his family and friends.
“Till we meet again ‘CEFAI!’ Things will never be the same.”
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