In the words of Semahat Arsel...
I finished the American College for Girls. Then, as I was preparing for the university exams, I caught a serious illness. It was an illness caused by parasites and spread by dogs. I had to have nine operations. I stayed in many different places and saw very different hospitals in Japan, America, Switzerland, Germany and Turkey. Because of that experience, I knew how important the nursing profession was. That means God gave me an ideal, a duty, saying, “You [should] advocate for nurses.” In 1974, with the enthusiastic support of Mr. Koç, I set up a fund at the Vehbi Koç Foundation and from that day onwards, I devoted a lot of attention to the nursing profession. It became my ideal.
Of course, the eldest child in any family takes on different responsibilities by necessity. Right from my childhood, I was raised with responsibilities within the family. After my mother’s death, I tried wholeheartedly to fill her place, to keep my father from feeling lonely and longing for her. In actual fact, my father and I both thought along similar lines. Afterwards, I tried hard to be a grown-up for my siblings and to maintain family unity.
As she grew older, she took priority place in joining her father on his business trips: “Sometimes my mother couldn’t keep up with my father’s fast pace. When that happened, it was over to me. As my father’s foreign trips were always related to business, I became part of a group with a good knowledge of both the business and foreign languages... Kenan İnal was his constant companion in English-speaking countries and Adnan Berkay fulfilled the same role in the Germanic nations.”
Can Kıraç, Anılarımla Patronum Vehbi Koç (Memories of My Boss, Vehbi Koç), Milliyet Yayınları, Istanbul, 1995, p. 162
Ms. Arsel! As Vehbi Koç’s inseparable friend, how do you manage the “cash” when you’re travelling?
“My father doesn't like carrying money on him. He thinks it’s dirty and worries about losing it! When we travel, he gives all the money to me, never forgetting to add the caveat, ‘You manage it for us and then give me the accounts!’ He asks the price of everything... I don’t tell him the real hotel room prices any more. He doesn’t know about giving tips, he wouldn’t like it… He used to say, ‘Look how cheap our country is, it’s great,’ every time we returned from a trip.”
Kıraç, Anılarımla Patronum Vehbi Koç, p. 376