Frugal way of living
However, he was not that generous to himself, which was easy to see by the antiquated furniture in his apartment, among which the color TV set was the only presentable item.
Zhou Weiping says the TV set was a gift he reluctantly accepted.
"His old TV set had a small screen which was too old to be of use. However, he thought it would be too lavish to buy a new one, so I told him on purpose that I was going to buy a new TV for myself and throw away my old one. Of course he would never agree to me throwing out the old set, so he kept it instead," says Zhou Weiping. "I knew him so much."
According to the notebook where he used to keep his accounts, the elderly couple lived off just a few hundred yuan every month despite his generous salary and pension.
"My grandfather didn't care much about his material wellbeing, he was content with his lot," says Zhou Xun, Zhou Weiping's son.
"When I was a little boy, he would get mad at me if I dared to waste food," Zhou Xun recalls. "One day, after I asked for an extra limed egg but couldn't finish it all, my grandfather scolded me and told me about the hardships of the past.
"Then he shared the rest of the egg with me."
Passing down the spirit
Except for Zhou Weiping and another daughter, the rest of his five children work far away from Beijing.
"He was so busy in dealing with his job. We never expected him to use his power or contacts to find a job for us in Beijing," says Zhou Xuewen, Zhou Zhifu's eldest daughter who has been working in Chongqing since the age of 19.
"He often reminded me that I was on my own, so I would grow increasingly independent, principled and strong," she says.
He refused to profit from the free medical services he enjoyed, strictly separating his medicine from his wife's.
Zhou Weiping says she once couldn't understand why her father was so stubborn about not taking advantage of his position. However, now she realizes that her father had a clear conscience after maintaining so much self-discipline throughout his life.
"The precious thing he passed on to us is his spirit, which has always spurred us on," Zhou Weiping says of her siblings.