Durban - Tony Norton passed away peacefully in Durban on Monday, September 1.
His wife, Peta-Ann and sons, Andrew, Christopher and Jonathan, and with their families, will greatly miss Tony as a husband, father and grandfather.
Tony’s life was exceptional in many respects.
He was born in Johannesburg in 1939 and educated in Natal where his leadership potential came to the fore at Durban High School and Natal University at a very early age in both the academic and sporting fields.
On graduating from University he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, which took him to Oxford University where he attained his MA and B.Litt degrees.
His athletic achievements included Oxford Blues for Athletics, Modern Pentathlon and Swimming.
Tony met his wife Peta-Ann Sammell at Natal University, and their friendship continued while they were both studying in England.
They were married on June 30, 1962.
After their marriage they returned to South Africa where Tony began his illustrious career.
Initially Tony lectured in political science at Natal University, while he continued his studies in law, which resulted in his being admitted to the Law Society as an advocate in 1964.
Tony moved into practical economics when he joined Canadian Packaging Company, which took him to London, Kenya and Jamaica.
He returned home for family reasons and joined Merchant Bank, which became Standard Merchant Bank.
At an early age he felt the need to enter the mainstream of corporate business and joined CG Smith – Barlow Group, moving through the posts of managing director of CG Smith Sugar, chief executive of Tiger Oats and thereafter joining the Board of Barlows as executive director.
His brilliant contribution to the country received recognition when he was nominated as one of the four Outstanding Young South Africans in 1974, and received the EG Malherbe Award for Service to Education, Science and Industry from Natal University in 1982.
In 1985 he was appointed to the unique position of first executive president of the JSE.
During his seven-year stay, he changed the public image of the JSE.
He believed it was important and critical that entrepreneurs of all races should be encouraged to participate in the economic growth of the country.
His concerted efforts to encourage companies to create an awareness of the benefits of shared ownership, particularly among their black staff, helped to instill the essence of the free enterprise system.
His efforts were not restricted to South Africa.
Every year he was in office at the JSE he toured world stock exchanges.
He was recognised overseas as a leader in economics and became an executive committee member of the International Federation of Stock Exchanges in Paris, which represents the world’s 35 leading bourses.
He joined business leaders in several anti-sanctions visits, taking every opportunity to address overseas business gatherings to promote South Africa.
As a member of the Economic Advisory Council of the State President and chairman of the South African Foreign Trade Organisation, he played a vital part in helping the government to cultivate international trade.
As deputy chairman of the Securities Regulation Panel and a member of several financial boards, he made a significant contribution to the financial well-being of our economy and enabled South Africa to maintain and develop closer links with overseas financial institutions.
Tony was a political realist and believed in distinguishing between effective change rather than tearing the fabric apart. He was always a believer in free enterprise and had a positive view of South Africa’s future.
He left the JSE to become the director-general of the Council of Southern African Bankers.
His wise counsel and guidance benefited the growth of the local banking industry, particularly in the field of foreign relations and the removal of import restrictions.
From 1995 to 1998, he was a director of NBS Boland Group, previously known as NBS Bank.
From 1998 to 2010, he was a non-executive director of various corporate companies, such as the Grindrod Group and the Marriott Group, including Marriott Merchant Bank which became Grindrod Bank.
Throughout his life Tony was very competitive.
He always liked to define objectives and functions, and pursue targets aggressively.
In each of his occupations he set in place a carefully considered strategic plan, outlining clear concepts and strategies for his staff, and then proceeding with the task of implementing these as a team.
During his retirement years his door was always open to friends and colleagues to give advice and guidance on corporate matters, using his lifelong experience in financial services.
He also devoted a lot of his time assisting with the management and welfare of the Salvation Army.
Tony thoroughly enjoyed outdoor adventures with his sons whenever time permitted.
To commemorate an outstanding life, there will be a gathering of family and friends at the Rob Roy Retirement Village in Hillcrest on Friday, September 19 at 11am. If you are able to attend please send an email to [email protected]
No flowers please, rather make a donation to the Salvation Army or the Animal Anti-Cruelty League.
Mick Hyatt is the former chief executive of Marriott Holdings