IT is a question that has tormented Australian Gina Harris for over 50 years: what really happened to my father on the Costa del Sol?
The last time she saw him was at five years old when she waved him goodbye from the Torremolinos finca her parents built in the 1950s.
Too young to be aware of her parents marital problems, all she knew was that she and her sister Anne-Marie were going with mum on a trip to Australia.
“My father struggled with his sexuality, it was not a good time to be gay or
bisexual,” Gina confides. “We had a guy called Pepe working for us and I understand
they had a romance, my mother freaked out and needed a break.”
But one year later, Geoffrey Harris was dead.
“My mother got a phone call to say he had passed away,” recalls Gina, who runs a
travel agency in Melbourne. “She let out a huge scream, it was awful.
“To this day we don’t know how he died or what happened to our home.”
Her mother, Judith Harris, wrote to embassies and authorities in Spain but no one
could tell her what happened.
“I personally spent hundreds of euros on Spanish lawyers myself to find me a death
certificate but they have continued to come up short,” adds Gina, 61.
Now taking matters into her own hands, the mother-of-two has shared her precious family photograph album with the Olive Press and will make the 10,700 journey from Melbourne to Torremolinos later this month in pursuit of the truth.
“There were suggestions he killed himself but I don’t think that was the case,” she says.
“He liked to drink and this is thought to have escalated after we left, we just want some
“My sister passed away last year, and I’d like to find out the truth so it isn’t
lost forever, I would truly like some closure.”
Geoffrey Cameron Harris was among the first resident expats on the Costa del Sol and, as
revealed in Gina’s pictures, was one of the lucky few to experience the area
before it became hyper-developed.
“They were a very flamboyant and party-loving couple,” remembers Gina. “They loved
having local people over to the house and some of them worked for them.
“I can’t remember much but the young local girls loved dressing me and my sister up in
flamenco outfits and my mum drove a white sports car.”
Mum Judith came from a wealthy family, meaning the couple didn’t need to earn a
“They didn’t do much work,” says Gina. “My dad had a mink factory in Kent, England but
they ran out of minks and so moved to Spain.”
And the love affair for all things Spain seems to be in the genes.
Gina’s son Manos, an architect based in Paris, speaks Spanish and is a gifted flamenco
“He teaches the guitar to Spaniards,” she says, “I guess our love for the culture
is in our bones.”
Gina, who will be in Torremolinos with her son from September 19 -25, is now appealing to
any locals who might have known the family and may know the truth behind what
happened to her father.
“We think the building might have been put into a local’s name.
“I’m not looking for a payout or to take the building back, I just want some answers.”
If you knew the family or think you can help Gina track down what happened, contact firstname.lastname@example.org