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.
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.