The loss of a brother and friend too much to bear

Wenceslaus Anthony will continue to live in hearts and minds

Venkat Raman

The passing away of my dearest brother, friend and family member Wenceslaus Anthony at Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India around 630 pm was not just shocking but unbearable; for it is difficult to perceive the world – and within it all of us- living without the sight and smile of a man who endeared himself to people known to him – and strangely as it turned out over the four days that he was taken seriously ill- even those who did not know him.

Wenceslaus (this is the first time I address him by his first name- in all other personal references, it has always been ‘Your Royal Majesty,’ because there was everything Royal about him and his thoughts and deeds were Majestic) was too young to die. He was only 59 years old- and some of us had planned to mark his 60th Birthday on September 28, 2017- and led an active and healthy life.

He left behind a lovely family comprising his wife Susan, their daughter Sneha and son Akash and thousands of friends and well-wishers all over the world.

There wasn’t a day in the past 18 years that passed by without a conversation with him over the phone- irrespective of the country, city, or time zone- we used to joke that ‘we always went to sleep the next day.’

The Final Journey

He has been away from New Zealand since June 2, 2017, firstly on business and thence on holiday with his family. He visited Sri Lanka where he met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, New Delhi where he met the then President Pranab Mukherjee; in fact, he visited several cities in India to meet with business associates, renew and make new contacts. At each of these meetings, he was keen to explore possibilities of fostering two-way trade and commercial opportunities.

The fact that Mr Anthony touched hearts of people is evidenced by hundreds of messages and text messages posted on our three Web Editions and Facebook pages.

Many called us to express their condolences, with a request to convey them to his grieving family. Among them were the following:

Sir Anand Satyanand

Longstanding friend and former Governor General of New Zealand Sir Anand Satyanand, said, “Wenceslaus Anthony packed a great many things into less than 20 years of life in New Zealand, achieving success in business in a personal as well as corporate sense, maintaining an active community life and contributing to a strongly committed family. Alongside respected leadership of the India New Zealand Business Council, and the local operation of the Bank of Baroda, he had built and operated a successful logistics company.  As an active Catholic church contributor, he recently received an unusual Papal honour. To all of his achievements he brought a graciousness for which he will be remembered warmly for a long time. A small point of solace, perhaps, is that his death has occurred in Chennai, a place where he had maintained many connections, notably in education.”

Susan Devoy and Rakesh Naidoo

Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy and Strategic Advisor Race Relations at Human Rights Commission said, “Our condolences to the Anthony family on the passing of their dear father. It is such tragic news. Our prayers are with them all at this sad time.”

Dr Rajen Prasad

Former Member of Parliament (Labour Party) Dr Rajen Prasad, who served on the Board of Bank of Baroda (New Zealand) Limited, said, “We just got news of the sad passing of our dear friend Wenceslaus. What a tragedy for the family and for our community in New Zealand. We were with (his son) Akash in Tonga on Friday (July 21, 2017), and he was able to give us news of Wenceslaus as his condition got more serious. Please convey our thoughts and prayers. It seems as if God had different plans for him.”

Vijay Vaidyanath & Gopal Ramanathan

Vijaya Vaidyanath, Chief Executive of the Yarra City Council in Victoria, Australia, and her husband Gopal Ramanathan have been among our common friends since almost two decades. They said, “We are deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic passing away of our dear friend Wenceslaus Anthony. ‘Wency,’ as he was affectionately called by some of us, was known to us from 2001 when we went on a New Zealand trade mission to India. We had many glimpses of both the energetic entrepreneur and the humane person that he was. Wency’s savvy professionalism, astute knowledge of India and Chennai, his vast network of business leaders, his personal contacts with the highest level of Church Heads, his philanthropic ventures and his care and concern for the vulnerable left us totally dumbfounded at times. We always ended up wondering as to how he found time and energy to do so much for humanity. He was also a humble, fun- loving person, who would delve into the golden days and nostalgia and sing along old Tamil songs. He never failed to contact us whenever he passed through Melbourne. We pray sincerely for his mighty soul and we pass on our deepest condolences to Susan Sneha and Akash. There can never be another Wency- Wenceslaus.

Prahlad Gupta

Bank of Baroda (New Zealand) Limited Managing Director Prahlad Gupta said, “I am in deep shock to know about sudden demise of my friend and Chairman Wenceslaus Anthony.  It is hard to bear the pain. May the Almighty give strength to his beloved ones. May his departed soul rest in peace. May the Anthony Family bear the courage on ensuring true justice with Wency.”

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi

National Party List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi said, “My deepest condolences to the family and friends of Wenceslaus Anthony on his passing away. Today I have lost a friend who was great advocate for New Zealand India relationship. The family is in my thoughts and prayers.”

Dr Parmjeet Parmar

National Party List Member of Parliament Dr Parmjeet Parmar called us to convey her condolences to the family of Wenceslaus Anthony. She said, “I am shocked to hear that he is no more with us. Everyone who knew Wenceslaus was touched by his warmth and friendliness. His way of doing things for people, businesses and the community was truly remarkable. I offer my condolences to his family.”

My Tribute

The following is my tribute to a great man.

Having known Mr Anthony since my arrival in New Zealand 18 years ago, I have also had the privilege of close association with him in a number of professional and social welfare organisations, at each of which he has earned the respect and admiration of people with his integrity, honesty and commitment.

His contributions to the business community is well documented and recognised (the foremost of which was his appointment as a ‘Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit’ by Her Majesty the Queen on her New Year’s Honours List on January 1, 2014.

As a columnist for Indian Newslink, he shared his values and beliefs with more than 100,000 readers of its print and web editions every fortnight. His passion for the human cause encouraged us to establish the ‘Indian Newslink Community Fund’ with him as Chairman last year.

Service to Church

The services of Mr Anthony to the Roman Catholic Church and the young Catholics have been a source of inspiration to all of us, including those of other faiths. He considers himself a ‘Servant of Servants,’ in the true Christian spirit. He was the Chairperson of the Divine Retreat Centre Movement in New Zealand and Advisor to the Vailankanni Committee to celebrate the feast of the Birthday of Mother Mary on September 8) and Director of Conquest Club, which aims to shape the character and personality of young boys in the 8- 14 age group.

He worked very closely with the late Mother Teresa and has had a personal audience with His Holiness the late Pope John Paul II. He was the Chairman of the Mother Teresa Interfaith Committee established in Auckland in 2010.

Mr Anthony was the Managing Director of WAML Group Limited, Director Business Solutions Limited (New Zealand) and PACT Industries Pty Ltd (Australia). He was also the Chairman of Bank of Baroda (New Zealand) Limited, Chairperson of Business Advisory Group of the International College of Auckland and Head of Government Relations of the India New Zealand Business Council.

 

Wenceslaus Anthony receiving the ‘Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice,’ the Papal Medal from Monsignor Bernard Kiely watched by Susan Anthony at St Mary’s Church on May 21, 2017 (Picture by Prince Kumar)

Wenceslaus Anthony at a ceremony held in his honour at St Joseph’s College, Bengaluru (Bangalore) on July 4, 2017.

 

A great and loving family- Wenceslaus Anthony with (from left) son Akash, wife Susan and daughter Sneha

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