Dr Medenis and his wife Aina grew up in Latvia prior to the Second World War. Artis studied to be a vet, graduating just months before he and wife Aina fled the country and the communist regime. After three years working in northern Germany, the couple migrated to Australia in 1948 to start a new life.
The Medenis family settled in Gerringong where Dr Medenis established Gerringong Veterinary Clinic, specialising in dairy cattle, followed by a small animal practice which opened in Albion Park. They bought the house next door to Lloyd Rees’ holiday house in Werri Street. There was a gate in the fence between the two houses, so in the summer when Lloyd and his relatives were there, the neighbours would drop in on each other for cups of coffee. Artis said Lloyd used to be very particular that the coffee should be made in a certain way.
Lloyd always painted in a dustcoat, streaked with layers of paint. Artis told the story that when his daughter Astrid was small, she said to Lloyd – don’t you get into trouble for getting your coat dirty like that? The next time Lloyd came down, Lloyd was wearing a new dustcoat! but was a little piqued that Astrid didn’t notice.
Five of the Medenis children went to Kiama High School from the fifties through to the seventies. The oldest son, Peteris, who finished there in 1960, remembers suggesting that Lloyd should be asked to provide murals for the new School Hall, but in the end it was Lloyd’s architecture students who provided the paintings. Artis at the time was vice-president of the P and C, and so Dr and Mrs Medenis not only sponsored the cost of the panels and materials for the paintings, but also gave a donation to each of the artists.
Dr Medenis was very involved with community activities in the district, particularly through Rotary, and continued to work as a vet well into his eighties. In 2013 he was awarded the OAM for his contribution to Veterinary Science and to the community. Aina was an artist, so she was particularly interested in Lloyd and his work. She died in 2011, and he lived on in his house on Werri Lagoon till near the end. He died in 2015 at the age of 94.
Hi son Andrejs and daughter Astrid still live close by. Andrejs continues his father’s veterinary practice, and both he and his sister are very active in local Rotary.