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Labasa Businessman’s Final Journey Home

Founder of Value City, Patrick Chute, was 75 when he died in Suva.
14 Jan 2021 15:24
Labasa Businessman’s Final Journey Home

A prominent businessman, whose second-hand clothing trade emanated from Labasa to become a household name through Fiji, was cremated in Nasinu yesterday.

Founder of Value City, Patrick Chute, was 75 when he died in Suva.

Many businessmen who have since made a name for themselves, followed his progress.

He was in the cut of the pioneer traders of old.

The late Mr Chute was known to always persevere, a hard worker with a nose for making the dollar.

“He comes from a family of achievers, it’s in their genes,” was a commentary from a businessman yesterday.

Mr Chute was respected reverently, for his generosity, and his great sense of humour.

“He was an idol to those of us who knew him, and had a cheerful side to him,” his neighbour, and Kava Korp owner, John Sanday, said.

“Fiji has lost a good son, and Narain Place will miss a great personality.”

Rosie Chute, widow of the late businessman Patrick Chute, follows her husband’s casket out of St Joseph The Worker parish in Samabula, yesterday. Photo: Leon Lord

Rosie Chute, widow of the late businessman Patrick Chute, follows her husband’s casket out of St Joseph The Worker parish in Samabula, yesterday. Photo: Leon Lord

Just a fisherman

Mr Chute’s childhood friend who later became his business associate, Tula Jaduram, recalled getting him his first job.

“He was just a fisherman,” Mr Jaduram said.

“He came to the Labasa fire station in the evenings where we played cards.

“I told him he could do better than be a fisherman; I told him there was no money in fishing.

“But he wanted to be his own boss.”

When Fiji Gas enquired about Mr Chute’s interest in a job opening, they were told to wait for two weeks before he would respond, Mr Jaduram said.

“I had to encourage him to take Harvie’s (Probert) offer,” Mr Jaduram said.

Speaker of the House, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, bids his old friend, Patrick Chute, a final farewell, at St Joseph The Worker parish church, in Samabula. Photo: Leon Lord

Speaker of the House, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, bids his old friend, Patrick Chute, a final farewell, at St Joseph The Worker parish church, in Samabula. Photo: Leon Lord

“In the end, he did, and he found that he liked it.

“He enjoyed the money – and he was getting a fair bit more than he made in fishing.”

Through Fiji Gas, Mr Chute travelled to Brisbane, where he met his business partner who he then ventured into business with in second hand clothes sales.

“He wanted to leave Fiji Gas, but Harvie kept him and told him he could pursue his other business alongside his main job at Fiji Gas – that’s how good he was in business, in sales,” Mr Jaduram said.

“Value Village was born as a result, right next to my shop at Rasawa St, Labasa – from where he branched out to every part of the country.

“His mind was too fast for his children to keep up.

“His mind was ticking, even when he was asleep.”

After getting him started in the world of money making and business dealing, Mr Jaduram said it was ironic that he should only call up his childhood friend to ask if he was considering retirement.

“But he had reached an age where he just wouldn’t stop,” Mr Jaduram.

He started a honey-making farm which still operates today.

“He was always on the move; if he didnt think he was going to succeed in one place, he’d pack up and move on.”

Background

Mr Chute, the eldest of his siblings, came from humble beginnings where he was forced to grow up fast, following the death of his father.

“His mother had to raise the children alone,” Mr Jaduram said.

He was elected mayor of Labasa where at one time, in his official capacity, he had to pin a medal on Mr Jaduram, during a civic recognition ceremony.

“That same afternoon, he joined us at the fire station, where I was chief fire officer, and told my men much to merrymaking of the moment: “See, you people’s boss had to salute me today.”

“He loved laughter; he loved to make others laugh.

A gentleman’s honor

Bauan chief, Ratu Tu’uakitau Cokanauto, paid tribute to Mr Chute, hailing him for his tremendous generosity and kindness.

And through his generosity, Mr Chute developed an ever growing circle of friends, he said.

“It was second nature to him to be kind and respectful..”

Feedback: frederica.elbourne@fijisun.com.fj



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