Count­ing through the times

How many mem­o­ries can you cram in to 93 years? For num­bers fa­natic Tony FitzHer­bert, the an­swer seems in­fi­nite, Caitlin Wal­lace re­ports.

South Waikato News - - NEWS -

A pas­sion for num­bers has had Tony FitzHer­bert, 93, re­count­ing his in­fi­nite list of mem­o­ries and achieve­ments.

Most of the for­mer coun­cil­lor’s adult life has been spent in Pu­taruru or scour­ing ac­count­ing books.

When asked to tell his story, the hum­ble man who does not look his age re­vealed a strange love af­fair with num­bers.

The fa­ther of four’s age­ing hands care­fully opened a worn, brown army pay book full of yel­low stained pa­pers.

It con­tained years of the ‘‘ next to noth­ing’’ salary dur­ing his war train­ing.

‘‘The first pay I got in Te Aroha was on the 13th of Novem­ber 1940, we were on seven bob a day.’’

Seven shillings could not get you much or even be worth sav­ing, FitzHer­bert said.

Flick­ing through the sig­na­tures brought back a few mem­o­ries but typ­i­cally, it was the book­keep­ing that re­ally made his hazel eyes light up.

His ‘‘han­ker­ing’’ for ac­coun­tancy saw him pur­sue it upon his re­turn from war in 1945.

‘‘It wasn’t un­til I came back I re­alised that I needed to do some­thing with my life.’’

It was cer­tainly not an in­spired pas­sion – FitzHer­bert said he couldn’t even re­mem­ber his maths teacher’s name.

Some­where along the line he was hooked though, and de­spite nine decades of change, his pas­sion re­mains.

‘‘I re­mem­ber when we bought our first com­puter, it was $14,000.’’

With four chil­dren to feed he knew it was a costly in­vest­ment but said it was the race to keep up with tech­nol­ogy that saw him fork out.

For all his un­der­stand­ing of num­bers and bud­gets, the for­mer Pu­taruru Golf Club pres­i­dent put no price or limit on his time.

There were many or­gan­i­sa­tions where he claimed mem­ber­ships in­clud­ing Jus­tice of the Peace, school com­mit­tee and the Ma­sonic Lodge.

He even found time to build struc­tures with the Jaycees.

One of his proud­est achieve­ments was as a Pu­taruru Bor­ough coun­cil­lor.

Democ­racy and de­ci­sion-mak­ing en­ticed him to rep­re­sent his com­mu­nity but, typ­i­cally, he could never get away from the num­bers.

‘‘It was all a ques­tion about al­lo­ca­tion of funds,’’ he said.


Swing­ing suc­cess: Golf has always been a keen in­ter­est for Tony FitzHer­bert who is proud of his Wait for Age award he re­ceived three years ago.

Count­ing back: Tony FitzHer­bert still keeps hold of his war pay book as a part of his his­tory.

Proud mo­ments: Hang­ing on the wall in Tony FitzHer­bert’s den are some of his proud­est achieve­ments.

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