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Doyen of furniture industry reaches his century

  • Community100yearold
Isaac Jankelowitz celebrated his 100th birthday on 2 September surrounded by family and friends. Always a wonderful storyteller, he recounted his life for those celebrating with him. He told how he grew up in the shtetl of Lubtch (Lubza), in what is Belarus today, how he arrived as a poverty stricken migrant in Johannesburg in the early 1930s. He then spoke of running what was the largest furniture factory in South Africa at the time.
by OWN CORRESPONDENT | Sep 06, 2018

While many of his children grandchildren and great grandchildren live across three continents, some made the trip to South Africa to celebrate with him. The joy on his face when they arrived shows how much he values family. He is planning to go to Australia soon to celebrate his eldest great grandchild’s wedding.

Mr I, as he was known by all his workers, was presented with a book of messages and photos from his family. One of his grandchildren recounts that when she asked him why he thought he merited such a long and full life, he responded that he always treated his employees in a caring and respectful manner. He is still known as a person who gives to whoever needs help, and many people recall that he was instrumental in setting them up in business, or finding a job.

Finishing school as a 17 year old, he went to work as an apprentice cabinet maker, eventually acquiring his own factory and listing a public company before selling to the Afcol Group in the early 1970s. He stayed on as managing director of his own group and a director of Afcol until his retirement at age 70. On retirement he was presented with an award naming him, “The doyen of the furniture industry.”

Jankelowitz continues to occupy himself with family and friends, reading, playing klaberjass, and is always ready to give advice on how to solve the world’s problems. He is now putting his next five-year plan into place.

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