OBITUARY: JAMSHED GUZDER

JAMSHED GUZDER : LAST OF THE SETHIAS

Jimmy Guzder, as he was popularly known, may not have been Parsi aristocracy but was certainly the last of the Parsi Sethias. With Lady Jehangir’s demise, the rule of the aristocracy over the community ended. Neither Boman-Behram nor Dr. Nellie Noble who filled her shoes were from the Petits, Jeejibhoys, Camas and the Jehangirs. Far from it. However, Jamshed Guzder was a class act. Urbane, sophisticated, soft spoken, graceful and a gentleman to the core. A deservedly first Chairman Emeritus of the BPP (though not the last – we know who is next). Guzder straddled over community and charity affairs for nearly six decades in his long life of 94.

Published in the Bombay Samachar

A man of great compassion for the poor and needy, who would line up every day, to meet their saviour. He doled out oodles of money from his personal funds and also as a trustee of numerous charities, both Parsi and otherwise. Never to lose his patience with the oddballs tales of woe, Guzder was truly a donor with a giant heart.

He adorned the Board of many a listed company and was popular with Swedish MNCs in India. A successful businessman in his own right, Jimmy, along with his equally illustrious son, Cyrus, turned Airfreight into a household name.

He displayed the same patience on the BPP Board which he chaired for several years. Never a confrontationist, he nevertheless fought Eruch Desai’s challenge in the High Court to his Chairmanship. When the CER was formed, he supported it from outside, displaying his liberal credentials. For a brief while, the Godrej faction became his bitter opponents. We remember the late Jer Birdy telling us to be careful of Guzder, in the CER times. However, she was in a hopeless minority. Guzder was befriended by almost all others in Parsi life.

Handsome, even in his seventies, Guzder would don a colourful silk shirt and drive his own red Mercedes to some Parsi function or the other, every evening. His zest for life was undiminished until his late eighties when his ailing body deserted his evergreen spirit.

Unlike his successor, the hapless Minoo Shroff, Guzder was both capable and fortunate to be able to evolve a consensus approach in the BPP Board. Those were peaceful times with hardly any controversy. Even though a liberal, Guzder was a devout Zoroastrian who prayed fervently almost every day at the oldest Mumbai Agiary – the Banaji Limji at Fountain. That did not prevent him from enjoying his cigar and single malt. Somehow he was always lucky to escape the ire and wrath of the Lunatic Fringe, barring an episode or two.

Jimmy Guzder led a full life which was, at most times, rich, entertaining and fruitful. He may not have had the lineage of aristocracy but he was a true Sethia who genuinely cared for the poor and needy. We had the privilege of knowing him in many capacities and he was a gentleman to the hilt. Destiny spared this gracious man from present times of anger, fanaticism, ego wars, litigation and bad blood in our tiny community. He would have silently disapproved of this lack of class.

The Parsis will cherish Jimmy’s happy memories and rue that they don’t make them, like him, anymore.

  • Faith94

    Type your comment here… Jimmy Gazdar was also instrumental in my own life way back in 1971, where his name alone carried all the weight even in secular organization. He was a great guy and soul. May GOD have mercy on his soul.

  • apustad

    As mentioned in this article Jamshedji was a true Sethia. Last of the lot. I had the pleasure of meeting him on several occassions and always found him to be soft spoken and he possessed excellent memory even at an old age.
    He paid respect to everyone, whether young or old, poor or rich, his soul was a noble one.
    May we pray to Lord Ahura Mazda that his soul rests in eternal peace.
    Aspi

  • Babulal Lalwani

    My wife and I have known Mr. Gazder for over fourteen years. It is our misfortune that we came to know this noble man during the sunset years of his life. He was always a beacon of hope, cheering someone in sore need of uplifting. After my father he had the most influence on our family. We will always remember those kind eyes and warm smile. May the Lord rest his soul in peace.

  • Harish

    OH! What a shock death can proffer at any time. It’s been  more than a year that dear Jimmy left for his holy abode. And, today just by chance I goggled his name and got to this article. I started my career in 1991 with his and his son’s company. What a humble soul he was. And so is his down-to-earth son Cyrus. Having relocated to America, I am out of touch with his company, but even after 20 years, I can not forget their extreme humbleness intricately coupled with professionalism. If any one has contact info of Cyrus, please pass on to hipnet@gmail.com  May God bless the departed soul.

  • Raman

    Nice article. Overfull of nostalgia though. When Neville Wadia died, it was ” the last of the Parsi sethias” moves on. Now its Guzdar. I’m sure when Ratan Tata moves on, the same will be said of him. And I’m sure when Jimmy Guzdar’s son Cyrus passes way , the same will be said of him too. What is it with you Parsis anyways and your overobsession with a glorious past ? The community is doing well today and so be it. Just need to get its youth together to hook up a little faster.