Entrepreneur dies while getting ready for work
A 98-year-old Bradford on Avon businessman, entrepreneur and inventor has died suddenly at home while getting ready to go to work.
Otto Varga died from cardiac failure on Wednesday July 26 while getting dressed. He still worked three days a week as chairman of Seetru Ltd in Bristol.
Mr Varga was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1919, but was brought up in Budapest in Hungary after moving there as a child.
A brilliant mathematician and scientist, he left Hungary for England in 1937 at the age of 19 to study mechanical engineering at Manchester University.
In 1938 he went back home to Budapest for the summer holidays and only just managed to escape the German Nazi regime as it was about to take control of the city.
When the Second World War broke out, Mr Varga applied to join the British Army but his university professor persuaded military officials to reject him so that he could finish his degree.
After finishing university in 1941, he moved to Bristol to help make aero-engines and met Alex Moulton, of the Spencer Moulton rubber works.
This brought him to Bradford on Avon in 1947 and he stayed in the town for the rest of his life, eventually marrying his wife Norma, whom he met after she nearly ran him over in her Austin Seven car.
Mr Varga and his business partner Leonard Taylor launched Seetru Ltd in 1949 based on his knowledge and experience of working with elastomeric polymers.
The company, based in the Bristol Docks area, makes rubber safety valves and associated valve technology.
He ran Seetru for the next 48 years until 1997, when his only son Andrew took over as managing director and Otto became chairman.
Mr Varga turned the company into one of the South West’s leading exporters, with more than two-thirds of turnover coming from export sales.
Andrew Varga said:
“My father was loved by everyone and was incredibly bright and knowledgeable. He loved working with people and helping people. “He was a brilliant mathematician and scientist. He did mathematics for pleasure and relaxation and loved reading literature in French.
“Only last year he spent six months revising Quantum Physics in German and revisting the Theory of Relativity in German and English. He was very cosmopolitan and loved the English and thought the British people were the best in the world. He trekked all over the world selling Seetru’s products and was completely fluent in English, Hungarian, German and French.”
Mr Varga was also an inveterate inventor with numerous engineering ideas and products patented over the past 70 years. In the past year alone, he had been pursuing three new inventions.
He worked full-time at Seetru until five years ago, when his wife Norma became ill and he nursed her at home. She died in 2013 from Alzheimers.
Lately, Mr Varga had been working three days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, being driven into Bristol by car after giving up driving himself.
His funeral was at Holy Trinity Parish Church in Bradford on Avon last Friday (Aug 11). He leaves a son, Andrew, a daughter-in-law, Margaret, and a granddaughter, Caroline.
His family requested donations to The Alzheimer’s Society and the Royal British Legion.