James Calleja writes:

I first met George Hyzler in 1995 when, in a quiet office in Valletta, at the United Nations International Institute on Ageing (INIA) our front desk officer informed us the institute’s new director had arrived. I had the good fortune to spend three eventful years with him at INIA. He was a doer and a visionary and these roles intermingled in such a harmonious way he gave the impression that what he dreamt and what he carried out happened almost simultaneously. That was typical of Dr Hyzler.

I still recall his enthusiasm for the many initiatives we used to discuss, whose implementation he then spearheaded successfully. The organisation of a first Malta Ageing Forum, the several international conferences and experts’ group meetings and the inter-governmental conference on socio-economic and political implications of ageing populations in the Mediterranean region, as well as new in-situ training courses in developing countries, are just a few examples. Our collaboration at INIA was captured in a triennial report of which he was so proud.

When I last visited him a couple of weeks ago I could not help but admire his unwavering enthus-iasm and unfailing zest for life that still abounded in him, the very same characteristics that had always made him so popular and endeared him to his electorate and the people who worked with him.

Dr Hyzler was a mentor to me in many ways. I still cherish his work ethic. He challenged bureaucracy, procrastination, negative attitudes all the time. From him I learnt we deal with people not papers; that action speaks louder than words; that there is never a good excuse if you fail to do your duty; that no one owes you a job!

Never in our 16 years of acquaintance was he ever in a dull mood. With typical humour, he had a word of comfort for all around him.

Dr Hyzler lived his life in the service of others. He had a generous heart. He took the initiative to bring over to Malta year after year several Chernobyl children for a short break here. I recall him rushing from one sponsor to another to get what he could for them. It was always so emotional to see these children going back home with bags full of all that he could possibly give them, taking back with them, thanks to him, excellent memories of Maltese hospitality and generosity.

Surrounded by his wife Elvira and a family whom he loved so dearly, he was a medical doctor of repute, a politician who worked with his heart and his brain, a person whom you could approach at any time of the day, a very dear friend. I will miss him very much but I have been privileged to get to know and work with a great man. It will be impossible not to remember him for all he has done, all he has been to me and to many others. His spirit will live on in our memory as a sign of an extraordinary man who always led by example.

To his dear wife and sons, my deepest and heartfelt condolences. We will never forget him.

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