Aurelio Montegriffo, one of the stalwarts of the AACR party and in government, died at the age of 97 at the weekend. He was a founder member of the AACR and Sir Joshua Hassan’s right hand man in the party for many years.
Former Chief Minister and Speaker of Parliament, Adolfo Canepa, described him as a man with a great commitment to Gibraltar.
Mr Montegriffo was one of the prime movers of the concept of the doctrine to the “right to our land” and a great believer of the AACR policy of “Gibraltarianisation”.
“He strongly believed that Gibraltarians could take over the roles which at the time were filled by outsiders,” added Mr Canepa having worked closely with him from the early 1960s as a member of Executive of the AACR and then from 1972 to the 1980 when he would serve alongside him as an AACR Minister.
Mr Canepa recalls how he greatly influenced his political thinking and both helped and guided him in his first years as a minister.
“The Aurelio I knew as a person I could look up to,” he said, “a very able politician and a political animal who had a great feel for politics. An outstanding journalist, he was a man of great conviction and committed Christian and a wonderful family man.”
On Sunday flags on Government buildings flew at half-mast as a mark of respect, and a Government spokesman said, Gibraltar owed Mr Montegriffo a huge debt of gratitude.
“We are truly saddened to hear of the passing of Mr Montegriffo. He was a very high regarded member of the community and had been a long standing member of the House of Assembly. He is widely referred to as Gibraltar’s first Minister for Health, and Gibraltar owes him a huge debt of gratitude in that and many other respects for his selfless service and contribution to our growth as a nation,” said a Government spokesman.
Mr Montegriffo was associated with the Ministry for Health throughout most of his political life.
One of his main achievements was the creation of the Health Centre of which he was very proud. He had been awarded the OBE but later was promoted to CBE and also received the Gibraltar Medallion of Honour in 2012.
He dealt with the new wing of the old St Bernard’s hospital which is now a home where perhaps appropriately he died. He was also at the forefront of the move to the then new wing of the old King George V Hospital which was then converted into a mental facility.
For many years especially in the seventies he was also associated with the Gibraltar Evening Post.
Mr Montegriffo was a City Councillor from 1947 to 1969. He was first elected to the Legislative Council in 1957. He was Deputy Mayor in 1964. He would serve as a Member of the House of Assembly from 1969 to 1980 when took the decision to retire from political life.
With the AACR Government he was Minister of Health from 1964 to 1969. Then in 1972 when he became the Deputy Leader of the party he also became Deputy Chief Minister and remained as such from 1972 to 1980. During all this time he was also health minister.