My father never retired. He continued to work in the office till the last. He continued as a director of the Bank of Athens till the last. He continued raising funds for the Greek community and SAHETI till the last.
He was passionate about all these things. There were phases in his life when he did more, like work from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. every day except Sunday, but that changed. He was chairman of the Alberton Hellenic Community for many years, but that changed. He was founder and the president of the Greek Federation for a few years, but that changed. He went to Greece for six weeks on holiday every year in July, but that changed.
He started a building company in Greece. This required more frequent visits, and stressful dealings with the South African Revenue Services to set up an offshore company and ensure the profits returned to South Africa. This was the early eighties, at the height of sanctions against South Africa and with our dual currency to prevent loss of foreign exchange.
In the nineties he slowed down with building development in South Africa and took on only a few small projects here and there. At the time of the electricity crisis in 2006 when ESKOM had rolling blackouts my father was innovative in building townhouses that each had their own solar water heating system. It was a good marketing ploy and he was proud of the greenness.
He never really saw anything but property as an investment for retirement funding. Saving money and gold was for “a rainy day” and “a nest egg”. You had to have rental property to obtain an annuity income. But I know you have to manage the property yourself, and he had his own agency, Civic Centre Estates, that did the rentals and collections. The residential rental seemed to be just to tick the capital over, as some social circumstances for tenants have always been dire. The commercial rental was the mainstream of income and status for his companies.
When we were in senior primary school he bought the house next door, on the north side of our home in Alberton, where my mother still stays. He fenced off that house, a traditional sixties square face brick house, from the property and included the rest of that newly acquired house and swimming pool into our garden, so we had almost an acre of land. The original split pole fence had a line of lemon trees planted by my grandfather, and these remained for a few years until they died. That house next door is rented just to have an occupant. Not to make money.
My father knew his tenants like a doctor knows his patients. Which ones needed more attention. Which ones needed protection from drainage on income, and which ones were hiding their money. The only thing is that a doctor can only collect rent from his patients while he works, not once he is retired.