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Time on his hands

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time1Penny Fletcher Photos
Burjor “Joe” Nargolwala wears the George F. Hixson Medal, the highest honor the Kiwanis Club can bestow, proudly in his Sun City Center home.



SUN CITY CENTER — Burjor “Joe” Nargolwala has a lot of Time on his hands.

In fact, Joe worked for the world-renown Time magazine for 43 years, starting out as a copy boy and ending up as the magazine’s chief art designer.

The man South County residents know as the “Joe” who works tirelessly fundraising and publicizing for scholarships for the Kiwanis Club started out as one of six siblings in India. His father, Dinshaw Nargolwala, had worked his way from managing a coal mine to graduate studies in English literature, and held education in high esteem.

“Our family had emigrated from Iran to India 800 years ago because of religious persecution,” Joe explained. The family is Zoroastrian, a religion that today has only 100,000 members.

“Zoroastrain was a prophet, and gave us our article of faith, which is to do good,” he said.

Joe has certainly done that, and even now, continues living his faith.

This issue of Time magazine dated July 8, 1985 is titled A Special Immigration Issue and the photograph next to it is of all the Time employees who were immigrants from other countries at that time, including Burjor “Joe” Nargolwala.

“I always wanted to come to the United States where people could be free,” he told me. “We were under British rule in India when I was young and a nation that is not free cannot advance. Gandhi was at his peak at that time. He believed in freedom.”

So at 22, leaving his family behind, Joe set out alone for America, and soon afterward, found himself in New York City. Having been well schooled at the University of Bombay, New York State University recognized his bachelor of arts in English literature.

He needed a job and called the managing editor at Time on the telephone.

He can’t say enough good things about the magazine, or the people he worked with there.

“They even paid me the whole time I was away in the Army, just like I was working,” he said. “And when I came back, I went right back to my job as an office boy, then gradually learned all the departments and decided I really liked art design.”

Having been taught and spoken English in his native India as a child, he said he did not have trouble assimilating into American culture as many other immigrants did.

Over the years “Joe” was featured in Time as he moved up through the ranks from copy boy to head of the design department.

“Time was known for hiring immigrants,” he told me. “In fact, the July 8, 1985 edition was dedicated to immigrants and was titled, Immigrants, the Changing Face of America.”

When he started there, he made $21 a week. A fortune, he said, for those times.

At 89, Joe has seen many changes in the world. But he still ranks charity and education as two of the most important things in life.

He and his younger brother, 88, are the only siblings left of the original six.

“We all went to different countries,” he said. “One brother went to London and studied in the London School of Economics with John F. Kennedy. Then the British picked him for a top level Civil Service position.”

time4Joe and his wife of 53 years, Erika, a writer, met in Brooklyn and have three grown children. Like his father, Joe encouraged his children to become educated from the time they could walk.

“One of my daughters is retired from the public health service,” he told me. “Another daughter is a lawyer for J.P. Morgan in New York City, and my son works for family services in the mental health field and also has private practice clients.”

Nothing would have been the same for the Nargolwalas if the United States had not dropped the bomb during World War II, he said.

“After leaving Fort Dix (N.J.) I went to Missouri and then ended up in California waiting to go to Japan as part of an invading Army. But after the bomb, we (the foot soldiers)  didn’t have to go.”

Instead, he mustered out and went back to Time where he found his back pay from every week he had served.

“I can’t say enough good things about the way that company treated us,” he said.

So how did the man from Time end up living in Kings Point in Sun City Center? I asked.

“Some of our friends had preceded us here, so we knew what kind of place it was,” he said. But the main thing was that at the time, our son was teaching in Florida colleges.”

That was 12 years ago, and the Nargolwalas are still enjoying South County life.

Joe is still active in the Kiwanis Club, as he has been for many years, and has received the organization’s highest honor, the George F. Hixson Medal, for his accomplishments.

Every year, he publicizes and plans events to raise money for four scholarships for East Bay and two Lennard high school students, especially by holding concerts.

In February, he brought the U.S. Navy Band to Sun City Center- not for scholarships and free of charge- just so local residents could enjoy the music.

“I love doing things like that. Every one of the 850 seats in the Borini Theater (in Kings Point) was taken,” he said. “Sometimes there is no reason to do something except to give others pleasure.”





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