About Sakıp Sabancı / His Life

Sakıp Sabancı was born on the 7th of April 1933, in the Akçakaya village of Kayseri in Turkey. He was the second of six children of Hacı Ömer Sabancı and Sadıka Sabancı.

In 1921 the Sabancı Family moved to the city of Adana, called ‘the Tower of Babel’ by Sadun Tanju, due to the many ethnic and religious communities such as Arabs, Tunisians, Bulgarians, Kurds, and Jews. His father Hacı Ömer’s skills as a cotton trader enabled the family to live in a three room, earthroofed Adana house. Sakıp Sabancı lived in this house along with his parents and grandparents, his brothers İhsan, Hacı, Şevket, Erol, and Özdemir as well as the family housekeeper Gülnaz until 1942 when the family moved into the house known as the “Pink House” or the “Lion House” on the very same street. In his book This is My Life, Sakıp Sabancı describes the busy life in about this mud-brick house, so busy that most mornings its inhabitants would leave the house for work or school in haste without breakfast. After finishing İsmet İnönü Primary School in 1944, Sakıp Sabancı continued his education until middle school, at Ikinci Orta Okul. He left Adana Boy’s High School because of a pneumonia that continued for three years. This was also the reason for his early entry into the work force.

In 1957, at 24 years of age, Sakıp Sabancı married his cousin Türkan Civelek with a wedding in the garden of his aunt`s Bossa Factory. Their happy union lasted for 47 years and was blessed with the birth of Dilek in 1964, Metin in 1970, and Sevil in 1973. In interviews, Mrs. Sabancı describes Sakıp as the boss of bothhis business and home, a man who was very hard working but also put great importance on his family: “He would call me ‘Turko’ or ‘Turkos’. I would call him ‘boss’, because he was the boss of both his business and home. He liked me to meet him at the door when he was back from work every day. If I happened to not answer the door one day he would ask “Is Türkan not here?” (13.12.2013) For a man for whom family was the most valuable thing in life, Sakıp Sabancı’s biggest losses were the deaths of his father Hacı Ömer in 1966, his mother Sadıka in 1979, the assassination of his brother Özdemir at Sabancı Center in 1998, and his brother Hacı`s loss of his battle with lung cancer in 1998. Sakıp Sabancı, who passed away at 71, was a man of great achievements.

As early as 1974 he had the foresight to move the center of the Sabancı Company to Istanbul, with the encouragement of the former President of Turkey, Turgut Özal, who at the time was General Coordinator of the Company. Sakıp Sabancı served as President of Sabancı Holding from 1967-2004. During this period, Sakıp Sabancı introduced the Sabancı logo to the world through joint ventures with multinationals such as Bridgestone, DuPont, Toyota, Philip Morris, Kraft Foods International, Danone, IBM, and Carrefour–all of worldwide renown. Starting in 1964, he was a member and President of the Chamber of Industry and Union of Turkish Industry and Trade in Adana and Kocaeli for 25 years. He undertook several roles in various foundations. He chaired the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen in 1986 and served as President of the High Advisory Board from 1987-1990. Sakıp Sabancı has been awarded 15 honarary doctorates from various universities, was chosen business person of the year in 1993 and 2001. In addition to the orders and awards from the governments of Japan, Belgium, and France for improving Turkey`s relationships with these countries, he also received the “Meritorious Service Medal” and “Culture and Art Grand Award” for his services in art, education and culture. When Sakıp Sabancı passed away in 2004, he ranked 147the in Forbes’ list of billionaires.

Sakıp Sabancı, known as such a colorful and energetic character that the public nicknamed him, “Sakıp Agha,” fit a good many successes in his 71 years. He had his first cardiac valve surgery in 1981; the second, in 1989 in Houston. He passed away on the 10th of April, 2004 at 17:55 in the American Hospital from pneumonia. On the 12th of April 2004, he was burried in Zincirlikuyu Cemetery after a state ceremony in Sabancı Center and a funeral with an attendance of approximately 100,000.