Much respected CBD stamp dealer Max Stern died on February 11, aged 94.
Mr Stern died only weeks before his 95th birthday and is survived by his wife Eva, two daughters, six grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
At his funeral on February 12, great-granddaughter Racheli Teller spoke fondly of her “hero”.
“You left Czechoslovakia with nothing – no family, no money, no hope – and then came to Melbourne and look at what you have accomplished,” she said.
Mr Stern survived Nazi concentration camps and death marches, only to return to his hometown of Bratislava to find that his immediate and wider family, with the exception of two sisters, had been killed.
He started dealing in stamps as a child and by aged 14 was paying for his own university studies in engineering.
Although the Germans invaded in 1939, Mr Stern and his family only went into hiding in 1944. He was captured by the Gestapo and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp where he later reported “an animal instinct of survival took over”.
In 1948, he married and came to Melbourne, and opened a stamp shop in Empire Arcade in 1952. Four years later he moved the business to then brand-new Port Phillip Arcade, where he constantly expanded to eventually occupy nine shop-fronts.
Port Phillip Arcade has been earmarked for compulsory acquisition to make way for the Metro Rail Project.
In 1999 Mr Stern became a member of the Order of Australian (AM) for his contributions to philately. He was widely recognised as a significant global stamp trader.
Mr Stern was also recognised and admired for his services to soccer and played himself until a ripe old age. Before his death, Mr Stern was believed to be the oldest original trader within the City of Melbourne.
At his funeral Racheli Teller said: “I have been crying for hours but these tears rolling down my cheeks aren’t because I am mourning his death, but rather celebrating his life.”
“You see, my Opi was larger than life. He was a man of the world, having has so many unique experiences throughout his life.”
“He made us smile and put life into perspective with his cheeky cynicism and sober outlook. He connected with young and old and made everyone feel as if they were the most important person in the world.”