Our industry said goodbye to a legend this year
The last year and a half has forced many to say goodbye to family members, friends and colleagues, and the property valuations industry has been no exception. Among the property valuers to leave us is Gert Petrus Wilkinson, who passed away on 7 January 2021 at the age of 82 years due to complications related to COVID-19. He leaves behind his wife, Nella, and a long list of valuers he has mentored, advised, and taught over the course of a long career – many of whom have become today’s industry leaders.
Wilkie, as he is more lovingly known, is described by colleagues as a true gentleman who was never once seen angry and always had time for both his co-workers and students. “Gert was a down-to-earth, humble man and always a gentleman,” says colleague and friend, Anita Cilliers. “I will never forget how he made time and challenged me while studying. I was a very privileged student and working with him was a great honour and pleasure.”
Gert entered the valuations profession in 1973, having worked previously as a carpenter. He began his career at the provincial valuations branch in the Eastern Cape while studying to be a valuer, and then worked for various provincial government departments and property companies before starting his own practice in the 1980s.
John van der Spuy, of Steer and Co, who worked under Gert during the start of his career, recalls his influence on provincial valuation work in these early years. “Gert brought a very professional, diligent approach to the whole operation and the quality of our work was positively influenced by him. He set a high standard in all respects; be it dress code, punctuality and, naturally, in our interactions with property owners and clients. I recall his contribution to our profession with fond, good memories.”
In 1989 he co-founded Adval Valuation Centre in Cape Town, a firm he then spent the next 16 years growing. His co-founder, Johan Cilliers, says Gert was “treasured as an honest, skilful and hardworking professional and that made him an exceptional business partner and close friend.” Gert retired from private practice in 2005, but remained active in the industry as a member of the Cape Town Valuations Appeal Board. He also served on the SACPVP, as well as the SAIV Southern Branch Exco and Natex – and in 2011 was honoured with a SAIV Life Membership.
But, arguably, his biggest contribution to the industry was his role in educating and mentoring students and candidate valuers. Gert was a lecturer in property studies at both Stellenbosch University and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and also provided the then University of Natal with study guides for diploma and degree courses. There are many established professionals today who will recall a time when Gert either marked an assignment, provided mentoring during their candidate years, or used his study notes and guidance to get through exams.
Jenny Falck, of Appraisal Corporation, met Gert as a lecturer in her final year of studies and describes him as laidback, yet assertive, open to new ideas, and always ready with a smile. “When I started in the profession in 1992, Gert accepted me with open arms, with never a skew word about my gender or my age. He had the ability to make me feel confident about my opinions, even if it later turned out I was wrong – and he often proved me wrong. With his many years of experience there was not much he had not dealt with. I will always treasure his guidance, especially the assistance when I was a rookie. Our world and the valuation profession lost greatness when Gert (and others like his good friends John Panos and Emil Weichardt) moved on.”
Henry Wiggins, of Henry Wiggins Valuers & Appraisors, remembers him “as a friend that would never let you down, a mentor that knew just the right word to use, and a wise man that always asked the right question”.
“I never heard him say a wrong word to anyone or of anyone, or tolerate gossip. If somebody did him wrong, he would just say ‘hy het seker sy redes’,” he notes. “If you had a problem he would listen until he understood, then guided you to the solution through relevant questions and allowed you to fix it yourself.”
He adds, “I always saw him love his wife with all his heart. In short: Gert was die ordentlikste mens wat ek ken.”