Rowley loved with a fierceness that could save lives and heal wounds
MAGGIE ROWLEY, who has died in Cape Town aged 61, lived her life with passion and commitment, her generosity of spirit tempered only by her hatred of injustice in any shape or form.
Her career, first as a journalist and later, managing communications and marketing for the Century City development in Cape Town, saw her touch the lives of many in ways they could not imagine.
Born on 21 November 1957, she grew up in Durban and matriculated from St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, spending a year in America as a Rotary scholar before studying towards a BA degree at the University of KwaZulu Natal.
As a young reporter on the Daily News in Durban she tried to uncover the truth behind the 1978 assassination of the academic and political activist, Rick Turner, and helped to launch Rape Crisis centres there and in Pietermaritzburg, a cause she continued to work for after relocating to Cape Town, where she covered the early school boycotts of the 1980s and other acts of resistance to apartheid and repression.
Her home was often a haven for battered women, rape survivors, activists hiding from the police or friends in need.
“She loved people with a fierceness and generosity that could save lives and heal wounds. She had space in her heart for almost anyone in pain, friend or stranger,” a lifelong friend recalled.
After shifting her journalism focus to finance and property, Rowley became involved in the development of Century City, overseeing communications and marketing, which she continued when the Rabie Property Group took over.
With typical energy and determination, she helped drive a notable turnaround at Sinenjongo High School in Joe Slovo Park, Milnerton, which the company adopted as the main beneficiary of its corporate social investment programme in 2007. Within three years, the matric pass rate soared from 27% in 2008 to 98% by 2010, Rowley had become the go-to person in the face of any crisis and lives were changed.
A self-confessed workaholic, Rowley continued working even after her cancer was diagnosed six months ago.
“Maggie was an enormously respected member of our management team. She made an invaluable contribution to the Rabie Property Group, Century City and to the greater community. She will be remembered with love and respect and sorely missed on a professional and personal level,” said Rabie chief executive, Leon Cohen.
Feisty and funny, Rowley could also be bossy and demanding – but always in the best interests of those she loved.
She was a devoted mother to her daughter, Georgia, and a loving companion to her life partner, Wendy Hartshorne.
She died in her sleep in the early hours of New Year’s Day, leaving a hole in the lives of her siblings, Lawrence and Anya, her nieces and nephews, her birth family and legions of friends and colleagues.
Maggie Rowley and the managing director of Ratanga Junction JC van Der Westhuizen on the Cobra.