Friday, 4 December 2009

The Last Post - update 10, with pics, music & ongoing tributes. Latest tributes: Maria Woolf & Marc Le Roux

This is Peter Cresswell from the NOT PC blog here.

You know why I'm here already. Or you might have guessed.

This is the last post Anna promised we would have to make for her one day. The day we all wished would never come, but did.

Anna died on Wednesday, at 12:05pm, at the Mercy Hospice. She died peacefully with family and friends around her.

In her last days you shared your thoughts with her and for her, so many of you, on blogs all over the local blogosphere. We thank you for that.

Over the last month Anna's cancer progressed to the point where she was no longer able to blog, then no longer able to live as she would have wanted-- not even to get on with her bucket list -- until finally she is, or would have been, in constant pain, if not for the ministrations of her favourite medical bods.

At the end she had family and friends with her round the clock -- she died with people she loved and who loved her.

Who could want for more at the end?

Funeral time and location is 2pm tomorrow, Saturday, December 5th, at North Harbour Stadium’s function centre. (Carpark A.)
Come along and pay your respects to a remarkable woman.
All welcome.

UPDATE [by PC]: Thank you to everyone who came to Anna’s funeral yesterday.  I’d like to think we all did her proud.

Just for the record, here’s the music Anna talked about having and (based on suggestions from family and friends) that we included in the funeral programme.

First, the call to order, a lament:

For the processional:

And for the two quiet moments:

And finally, for the recessional, the song Anna called NZ’s greatest love song:

UPDATE 2: Anna’s brother Tony, and Jacqui Knowles, Anna's classmate, put together this montage for the programme.  You should be able to click on both pages to see them full-size.



UPDATE 3: Here’s the tribute from Anna’s DN’s, her darling nieces Zoe and Julia, in case you couldn’t hear what they read out on Saturday:

Roses are red, violets are blue, honey is sweet and we will miss you.

Julia: Unu was a very caring aunty with great humour and a loving personality she was a great role model and still she will be.

Unu is a variation of Anna. It will take time to get used to her not being around. And I guess that will apply for everyone.

Zoe: With Unu we had some great times. Today we have just listed a few.

Babysitting where we had some fun times.

Shopping, we had a great time getting lost in the clothes.

Watching Avatar and relaxing at the Bach.

Gymnastics she loved to watch us doing handstands and flips.

We play a lot of sport and she cheered us on enthusiastically.

She kept us in order like wiping our nose, posture, and keeping the house tidy.

When we first heard Unu had a problem with her Kidneys we thought it was okay.

Over the next few months our time at grandpa and grandma’s place were filled with stories of CT scans and injections. Unu had many opinions on things. She hated Hokey Pokey but on the other hand she loved many things like the stock market, sorbets and wished for a cat named Seizure.

J: Over the period of time that she was sick we went to the hospital for brief visits although they were short visit we knew exactly what was going on. Unu enjoyed foot and head massages. Once we turned her room into an equivalent of Bliss ( which she enjoyed as well). While we massaged her she talked to us about how she wanted to see the world and do everything possible. Eventually she would drift off and we would sneak away. She never told a lie to us. And when she said she wanted to do everything she really meant it. In the Gold Coast she went down a water slide in complete darkness, I remember her screaming at the top of her voice as she plunged through the darkness.

A: All those fun times will never be lost. We will always remember you Unu!

UPDATE 4: Fresh from cooking for the Dalai Lama, Anna’s sister-in-law YokeHar Lee pens a beautiful tribute at her blog Ramblings & Rumblings: Till we meet again -- Anna Woolf (Apri 68-Dec09).

UPDATE 5: Blogger XChequer at HomeOffice reflects on the round-the-blogosphere reaction to Anna’s death, and compares it to Princess Diana! Crikey!
Read Sod it..... Lets Get Morbid!.

UPDATE 6: Peter Cresswell’s tribute appears here at his blog.

UPDATE 7: Here’s Carol Potts’ tribute to Anna, which she delivered on Saturday:

A few words about the part of Anna’s life spent with us at The Castle.

I met Anna in 1996 at a party thrown by Lindsay Perigo. At that time my partner and I were living at the Castle & for any of you that don’t know of THE CASTLE , it’s a glorious old stately concrete structure in Epsom - built in 1867 - that was originally the family home of Josiah Firth of Firth Concrete. Today it is 7 apartments and Peter and I still reside in one of them.

Peter and I were living in The Castle, and although we started out in the servants quarters we set our sights on the apartment upstairs that has the sea views. On a good day. Though in order to move upstairs we needed to have a flatmate.

As we got to know Anna a little better, that apartment became available and fortuitously Anna was also looking for somewhere to live – and so the 3 of us moved into the gallery apartment and we danced along very happily for the next 4.5 years. Not easy to live with a couple but she allowed us to shine and I’m really grateful to her for that.

It was a sociable place to live, pretty soon became party central – that’s party central in every sense, since Anna and I were doing the admin for the Libertarianz. Most people have a lounge , y’know a cozy place to relax at the end of the day – not us. We had an office where we’d we spend many an hour composing letters which essentially were asking for money for the party and then compose gracious responses when they gave it!

These were busy, political times, where we raged and laughed, drank and laughed a lot! We loved Anna’s love of life, her can-do attitude, the devilish twinkle in her eye and her rosy cheeks after a glass of wine!

During this time Anna was working in Real Estate and soon emerged a standard pattern to Anna’s morning – one that meant we never needed an alarm clock. She’d listen to Morning Report ever morning upstairs, and invariably we’d hear her arguing with the radio as Sean Plunket announced the latest Government shenanigans. Then she’d stomp downstairs - still chuntering, mind you - and open the Houses for sale section of the Herald. Invariably there was a typo on one her ads and the paper was thrown down in disgust before she stomped off to work.

We missed these fiery displays once she moved out of The Castle, but have remained great friends and I’ll cherish my memories of Anna – she was remarkable, passionate, honest, eloquent and a beautiful friend. And one to whom I don’t lightly give my favourite tea towel!!

Carol Potts – (Anna lived at The Castle from 1996 – 2001, approximately)

UPDATE 8:  This was Marc le Roux’s moving tribute to Anna:

When I hear friends and family speak of their experiences with Anna I am struck by the contrast of Anna’s multi-dimensional character. My experiences were formed in the trenches of the market….. and you want an Anna next to you when you are in the trenches. I’d like to take a few moments to give you a glimpse of the Anna I know.

Anna and I have been friends, trading and business partners for the last 13 or so years.

"It was by chance we met . . . By choice we became friends."

Soon after Anna heard that I trade in the international markets she presented me with a proposal; she would do all our research for free, if I would show her how the markets work.

Soon I would find that she had all the characteristics to be an ideal trading and business partner, so much so that Anna took over the entire trading operation within 3 years.

Anna was perfectly wired for the unforgiving world of trading and investing…….. Those character traits that may have seemed harsh and uncompromising to many of you was what made Anna a world class trader.

I do mean world class – I’m not talking here about measuring against local benchmarks but by international standards. Every day she pitted her hypothesis, her vision of the world and the markets against the full spectrum of the PhD’s, quants and Wall Street insiders. And you would have one heck of a challenge to find anyone that has a track record of positive returns consistently, year after year for the last 10 years of trading. At times I quote “our” trading record – truth be told, it is Anna’s trading record. I was privileged enough to be able to hitch my name to it.

Yet, she never boasted about it….. Who of you here today had any idea ….

At one stage I asked Anna; why trading? There are but a handful of successful women in trading in the world …… because there is no BS, no smoke and mirrors, no place to hide when you get it wrong. If an option close at 5pm on Friday and you are one minute late, …. One second late… its gone. You cannot get on the phone and call the counter party and say I’m sorry “I got stuck I traffic or the internet connection was down” …. half a second has the same effect as an eon. Anna enjoyed the black and white world of trading.

In line with that Anna modified a Winston Churchill saying to read-

“The three most difficult things for a man to do are
to climb a wall leaning towards you,
to kiss a girl leaning away from you,
and trade a trend going against you.”

But it was not only in trading that we were partners, but also in property. Most people go through life, not being able to distinguish the difference between price and value, but Anna instinctively understood that and more importantly had the discipline and values required to implement that. Values that Brian and Margaret instilled…. Work ethic, discipline, patience, honesty and above all integrity.

A short recollection to illustrate; Anna did not shy away from work and as a result she was most frequently saddled with the administration of Investment-, Trading-, business- and club accounts. Some years ago, in order to make our own lives easier, it was decided to give Anna power of Attorney on all these accounts. One evening all the account holders got together to sign the documents. The solicitors had prepared all the documents, but in each case recommended that “if you give someone unfettered access to all your accounts”, then you should incorporate some safeguards, conditions and rules. Yet not one – not one person there even looked at the “safeguards” document. As one venerated partner said; “Integrity has no need for rules.”

Some people work to enrich themselves, others to define themselves, Anna truly did it because she loved it. She had found her vocation…… her niche in the world. This provided her with the freedom to read, learn, travel, and help many other friend a step or 2 closer to their own goals.

During one of our scouting expeditions I asked Anna, what is still outstanding?..... was there anything else we needed to implement or do. What advice do you want to give…. Just this advice from Baz Luhrmann, she said, ‘Everybody's Free.’

So, on Anna’s behalf I dispense that now…..

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh never mind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.

But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.

You’re not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts,

Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters; throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life - the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives; some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know, still don’t.

Enjoy your body, use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Get to know your parents; you never know when they’ll be gone for good.

Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and
the people most likely to stick with you in the future.


Respect your elders.

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time it’s 40, it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it.

I would like to finish with one last item ….

A thank you…..

A thank you, on behalf of Anna….

To you all, - her friends and family.

You are indeed a remarkable group of people…..

I stand astonished when I look at this group of people,

people that were there when it was required……..

Who said; …… life is slippery here... take my hand.

Anna is lucky to have you as her friends and family……

And we…

We are lucky to know someone who it is so hard to say goodbye to.

UPDATE 9: Tribute from Maria McFadden:

Dear friend,

You have been in my life as long as I can remember and will be in my thoughts and heart forever. My love to you and to your very dear family who likewise feature in special memories throughout my life and who are right now very much in my thoughts. Love from me - and from both my boys, who so utterly adored you.

Maria McFadden

NB: Due to time constraints, not all the tributes were able to be read at the funeral. 

Please do feel free to post your tribute in the comments section, below, and we will post them here on the front page.

UPDATE 10: Here’s the beautiful tribute Anna’s sister Maria gave at the funeral:

While death is never pleasant it is part of the natural process.

We’re born, we grow up, we grow old and then we die

However the death of a younger person breaks this natural pattern

Parents shouldn’t out-live their children, young people don’t expect to lose their siblings or friends.

When death has come after an illness like cancer, as with Anna, there is a sense of relief that her suffering is over--but this doesn’t lessen the grief for the Woolf and Robins families and her many friends and colleagues that have turned out today.

When a life is cut short we have not only lost what we had with them, but also the hopes and aspirations for their future.

Anna bravely looked death in the face, did all the paperwork, closed bank accounts, gave away clothes, dotted all the is, crossed all the ts and then lived another year. Her strength and courage was a source of amazement to me and no doubt everyone that visited her and read her blog detailing her treatment over the last couple of years

She created a bloggers’ evening at Galbraith for the first Thursday of each month, a legacy I hope continues as it did last Thursday night.

But the most valuable legacy she has given us was to encourage greater appreciation and enjoyment of life. Something which is going to be difficult in the coming months . . .