Farewell of the Management Committee Chairperson, Mr Fritz Körte

On 20 August 2019, Otto Gerntholtz representative of the Johanniterorden and MC member, delivered a perfectly suited speech at the last MC meeting chaired Mr Körte.

Dear Fellow MC members, Dear St. Johannis Organisation Supporters, Staff and Residents

Dear Fritz, Dear Graciela

One of the most important advices I have ever received was that it does not matter if you take a right or wrong decision – important is that you take a decision. Wrong decisions are better than no decision. Decision making is important so that things happen! Since life and time does not wait for those who procrastinate.

We all know the saying “if Moses had a committee the Israelites would still be in Egypt”. Hence someone eventually needs to take a decision and in that case it was Moses.

6 years’ ago it was our goal to get the organization out of financial difficulties, we needed to repair and restructure the ship. We needed to appoint a new management/chairman to save and manage the St. Johannis Organization. In order to accomplish our goal of steering the ship on course in the right direction, we needed to make decisions – in fact many decisions and more than often hard ones. Any country/organization/business including charities need to be run along business lines to succeed. We had to be decisive.

Last week I attended the Annual General Meeting of the St Johns Organisation in Cape Town and they too had a management change and I quote from their annual report: “We needed a Manager that was conscientious, strict, focused, fair, able and diligent. It was reassuring to know that Ms So and So did not fulfil her obligations to be popular but to ensure that the job was done according to the required standard, end-goal and ethic of the Order of St John.”

My first thoughts were: are they talking of Fritz Körte. Our Fritz Körte? The one who came in from the cold to captain our ship through and out of the stormy waters? The one Fritz Körte who came on board and whom we entrusted to be decisive. Not to be popular but to take hard decisions and get the job done.

There are 5 Steps to Good Decision Making:

Step 1: Identify Your Goal.

Step 2: Gather Information for Weighing Your Options. …

Step 3: Consider the Consequences. …

Step 4: Make Your Decision. …

Step 5: Evaluate Your Decision.

Step 1: Identify Your Goal. Not only Fritz Körte’s goal (but everyone’s, the Management Committee, the Founding Members, Staff and Residents) was to get the St. Johannis Organization financially on secure ground. It was not our goal to have a popular comedian as chairman – this is not the late night show or Udo Jürgens singing at the old age homes. We had a serious and unpopular goal and Fritz Körte realized this.

Step 2: Gather Information for Weighing Your Options. How often did Fritz Körte not speak to the residents of the Heim, Gardens and Park including Staff at the St. Johannis Organisation? Thousands of time, because he wanted to gather information. In this room there is no single person more informed about the operations of St. Johannis Organisation than Fritz Körte.

Step 3: Consider the Consequences. How often did Fritz Körte not speak to MC members on the phone? Thousands of time, because he wanted to consider the consequences of each decision. More than often I received the message: Hallo Otto Ruf doch bitte mal an wenn du Zeit hast. Gruss Fritz.

Step 4: Make Your Decision. Eventually somebody has to take a decision – many were easy, but there were also the numerous hard ones. And this is where he even made more phone calls to ensure that he made the correct decisions. However sometimes a few of us (including the Johanniterorden), influenced or forced him to take some hard and unpopular decisions. Hence for some of the unpopular decisions we at the Johanniterorden gladly take the blame.

Step 5: Evaluate Your Decision. If we had not selected Fritz Körte who had to make the hard and unpopular decisions (on other’s behalf), there would not have been a successful completion of St. Johannis Park, there would not have been a successful completion of Mountain View, the St. Johannis Organisation would not be on a secure footing and we would definitely not be standing in this fantastic hall.

Now when we evaluate our (not Fritz’s) decision to get him to manage the St. Johannis Organisation and we look back over the last 6 years, we can definitely say that the decision to appoint him was not only right – it was probably one of the most important and successful decisions taken at the St. Johannis Organisation. And one which will not be forgotten.

Charity and volunteering is defined as the act of giving help to those in need of it. It is a humanitarian act. It involves giving money, goods or time and effort to those who need it. It is done without expecting something in return. For all Fritz and Graciela did for the St. Johannis Organisation, they expected nothing in return and received nothing in return.

My final questions to Fritz and Graciela is thus: Was it worth it? Were years’ of unselfish hard work, thousands of meetings and phone calls, the years of lost retirement time, the years of lost family time, lost time with the children and grandchildren! Was it worth it? Why did you persevere and not throw in the towel in view of the backlash and un-thankfulness from people? Was it worth it? Why?

You need not answer the questions, but whatever your thoughts and answers are: we (and I am sure that even the small minority who gave us a hard time and kept us on our toes) are grateful in their hearts for what you have done because yes: you not only got the job done. You got it done very well indeed!! And you were popular amongst +95% of the residents!!

With these words we thank Fritz and Graciela Körte for everything they have done for us, the staff and residents of the St. Johannisheim, Gardens, Park and Mountain View and present them with a wine tour voucher for them to reflect over 6 successful years.

Vielen Dank!

Otto Gerntholtz, Johanniterorden, 20 August 2019