Farewell to the epit­ome of a gen­tle­man

Sunday Tribune - - HERALD - MYR­TLE RYAN

WHEN Si­valingam Peru­mal (Thomas) Naidoo passed away peace­fully on March 12, he left a legacy in the bank­ing world, his church and the com­mu­nity as a whole.

Dur­ing his life­time, he re­ceived nu­mer­ous awards for be­ing the top stu­dent at the In­sti­tute of Bankers and for be­ing a top per­former in the coun­try as a banker.

Start­ing out in 1969 as an ad­min­is­tra­tive clerk at Stan­dard Bank, he rose through the ranks to be­come the firm’s pro­vin­cial di­rec­tor of re­tail bank­ing in Kwazulu-natal and the Western Cape.

He was the first non-white di­rec­tor and Om­buds­man at Stan­dard Bank – the lat­ter a po­si­tion he held un­til his re­tire­ment in 2011.

After re­tir­ing, he joined Bar­clays Africa/absa as their cus­tomer dis­pute ad­ju­di­ca­tor (Om­buds­man).

He was a Fel­low of the In­sti­tute of Bankers of South Africa and served as a mem­ber of the Dur­ban Cham­ber of Com­merce and the Mar­ket­ing Fed­er­a­tion of South Africa.

In 2002, he was in­vited by the Rev­erend Jesse Jack­son to ring the open­ing bell of the New York Stock Ex­change and had the priv­i­lege per­son­ally funded the Sil­vanus Naidoo Pri­mary School in In­dia to bet­ter the lot of the im­pov­er­ished in In­dia. In South Africa, he as­sisted var­i­ous or­phan­ages, oldage homes, schools and hos­pices to ob­tain spon­sor­ships and do­na­tions, both in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity and as a re­spected mem­ber of a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion.

He fur­thered his stud­ies in the UK at Ashridge Man­age­ment as well as at Tem­ple­ton Col­lege, Ox­ford.

As a ded­i­cated mem­ber of the Chris­tian In­dian com­mu­nity, he served as a dea­con, Sun­day school su­per­in­ten­dent, cell group leader, trea­surer, in­ter­ces­sor and in other ca­pac­i­ties in var­i­ous Chris­tian or­gan­i­sa­tions and boards. He lent his sup­port to those in the min­istry, mis­sion­ary and outreach work, both na­tion­ally and abroad.

His daugh­ter, at­tor­ney Melissa Vivette Lachanna-naidoo, sketched a vi­brant pic­ture to the Sun­day Tri­bune Her­ald of a lov­ing fam­ily man.

“My dad of­ten shared sto­ries of his hum­ble up­bring­ing, the hard­ships en­dured, and yet he al­ways em­pha­sised the joy of sim­ple liv­ing in his child­hood,” re­called Lachanna-naidoo fondly.

It was those many life lessons passed down from their fa­ther that taught her and her sib­lings to value and ap­pre­ci­ate the lit­tle things in life, which would stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. She be­lieved that the dili­gent, ded­i­cated work ethic and loy­alty which her fa­ther brought to his ca­reer had been passed on to him by his own fa­ther.

“My grand­fa­ther held down the same job, that of bus inspector, for his en­tire life. Up un­til the age of 79, he was still at­tend­ing work at Dass buses (in Dur­ban).”

Naidoo’s ca­reer with Stan­dard Bank up un­til his re­tire­ment, she be­lieves, re­flects how he fol­lowed in his own fa­ther’s foot­steps of loy­alty and stead­fast ded­i­ca­tion.

A man of great in­tegrity, hon­esty and dig­nity, he was nev­er­the­less a firm, no-non­sense, by-the-book, strict fa­ther – the Go­dap­pointed head of his home.

But he was also a par­ent who loved ad­ven­ture and ex­cite­ment. “On hol­i­days, he would take us to game re­serves, re­sorts or the beach, both na­tion­ally and abroad. He planned hol­i­days months in ad­vance. He re­ally loved to travel and wanted to ex­pose us to ev­ery­thing that South Africa had to of­fer,” said Lachanna-naidoo.

No pub­lic hol­i­day passed with­out a unique out­ing.

“My fa­ther wanted us to ex­pe­ri­ence all the op­por­tu­ni­ties he never had. He took us to places where he never could go as a child – a chance to learn and ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing new and to ap­pre­ci­ate South Africa.”

There were over­seas hol­i­days, too, and when the grand­chil­dren came along, Naidoo was in his el­e­ment.

“He loved be­ing around his four grand­chil­dren, and plan­ning long, fun-filled va­ca­tions, the most mem­o­rable one be­ing to Dis­ney World, Florida. They were first and fore­most in his life, and he loved in­ter­act­ing with them on all lev­els. He spent many hours try­ing to im­part to them all the gems of wis­dom he had ac­quired dur­ing his life­time,” she said.

“My dad was spir­i­tu­ally minded and ded­i­cated to God, to his fam­ily and to his ca­reer. He was very grounded in the Chris­tian In­dian com­mu­nity and spread­ing the gospel of Je­sus Christ. In all this, he was strongly sup­ported and en­cour­aged by my mother, his con­fi­dant, per­sonal ad­viser, best friend and dar­ling wife.

“De­spite all his ac­co­lades, he re­mained hum­ble and revered a quiet and pri­vate life.”

Per­haps the phys­i­cal im­age she will al­ways carry with her is of a hand­some, well-groomed, charis­matic ‘peo­ple’s per­son’, al­ways dressed im­mac­u­lately in a suit and tie.

“He was an ab­so­lute gen­tle­man,” said Lachan­nanaidoo.

Thomas Naidoo’s par­ents, Peru­mal and Nagamma Naidoo.

Thomas Naidoo, left, with the Rev­erend Jesse Jack­son and an uniden­ti­fied woman at the New York Stock Ex­change.

Thomas Naidoo (sec­ond from right) with King Zwelithini, an uniden­ti­fied woman and for­mer deputy mayor Lo­gie Naidoo.

Thomas Naidoo with for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.

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