6 June 1956 – 27 July 2015
CX and ENTECH co-founder Caroline Fitzmaurice died very quietly at sunset on July 27th aged 59 from brain cancer. Her family were there, pained yet knowing as her life ebbed.
To me Caroline was the chick on the dance floor at a gig.
Her first husband Colin Ford did sound for a band and she danced. It was 1975, she wore flowers in her hair.
I did lights for the band. We became friends
In 1976 that young hippy couple had little Sarah Jane Ford. Caz was euphoric about motherhood. She was 19.
By 1980 her time with Colin was over and I fell for Caz. Literally – I fell over late at night in a state, and passed out. She tended my bleeding head. Caz and Sarah Jane moved in, I had an instant family. She scrubbed the bathtub and got rid of Tara, my Afghan Hound that buried bones in the bean bag.
We started a sound and lighting production company together. I taught her to drive. Caz booked the gigs and soon she started an agency, so that we got the best gigs and the guys she managed got the rest. Little S.J. was in the middle of our world.
It was the early 1980’s, the cold war was real, and we had contingency plans if the ‘balloon’ went up. We seriously talked about how we could all survive as a family in the nuclear winter.
We bought my mum’s little property with a miner’s cottage near Bathurst and had some crazy cold weekends out there under the mountain. SJ and her cousin Nicky had hot bricks wrapped in towels in their beds. Rick Astley and Crowded House tapes were on our battery powered boom box.
At Chatswood our neighbour Ruth became SJ’s baby sitter. We swam in their pool in between work. Ruth became Caroline’s best friend.
Over four years our touring production business boomed. We had a strong work ethic. We got married at home, it rained. Caroline’s dad walked her four paces down the hall and gave her away. Her whole extended family – she is second youngest of six – were there.
I hated leaving the girls when I was on tour, and would drive home overnight wherever possible. I had so many late nights, landing in bed at 4 or 5, and getting up again at 8 to see Sarah off to school.
We kicked goals. We built a serious business together. In 1984 we moved into Taylor Square and started Graftons Sound and Lighting.
Every year we were together we expanded our business because we were extremely effective and powerful business partners. We worked well together, she in charge of money, me on the front line.
We started Australian Monitor and sunk all our profits in. It needed more money so we sold parts of the business. We took on Jewish South African partners – Lionel Krupp and Hymie Meyerson . Caroline’s Irish Catholic nature clashed with them, I was in the middle. We had 40 staff.
Jessica Anne was born in 1986 and our focus shifted.
In 1989 we sold up and had the sea change – moving to the property 20km east of Bathurst. Caroline’s mum and dad came and helped build our dream home in the bush. SJ started high school out there, and Jess started kindy.
Caz started a career as a bookkeeper, and enjoyed being her own woman. She was successful and enjoyed working for an accountant in town.
Back in Sydney in the early 1990’s we started this media company and lived out an amazing decade. It was the union of us that did it. The sum of the parts. We together carved a new future again and reaped the rewards.
We started ENTECH in 1993 and it was very much her baby. She sold all the space, and drove the deals. It took off.
We were wealthy, successful – and a bit conceited. We traveled the world.
Caz was well known. Our world was fast money, fast deals, and fast booze. Together we had power. We were bathed by the light of our glory. We sure did burn some relationships. I no longer liked myself.
People need to grow together but we grew apart.
Caroline was an attractive, gregarious, generous and funny woman.
She kept a tidy house, with strong family values. Her family mattered to her. She worshiped her father Frank Fitzmaurice and he helped us so very much.
Her dad Frank survived a direct hit by the nuclear bomb at Nagasaki. He was a war hero, captured and enslaved, then shipped to Japan. The allies torpedoed the prison ship and he floated for a day while sharks ate his mates. Another Japanese boat collected him, and they took him to work at Mitsubishi as a war slave.
Jess was his ‘perfect dozen’ grand kid and had the same birthmark on her arm as he did.
In 2000 I split with Caroline after 20 years together.
I’ll always love her spirit. Her drive. Her family values.
Caroline was a leader, a deal maker, and a hard worker. She and I brought out the best, and sometimes the worst in each other. When we split, I offered her any deal she wanted – keep the half share, take the media co, buy me out – but I expected her to take ENTECH as her own.
She walked away and I respected that. It was fair and reasonable.
She left the industry she knew, and started again as a well-established woman.
Just two years ago she married the love of her life, Phil, in Thailand. My son-in-law was the minister, our grand kids were there. She welcomed me into her home for the first time. We were sharing our grand kids. The happiest days of her life stretched ahead but very suddenly one day she shut down and slipped into confusion.
Brain cancer is a dreadful beast. Phil cared for her every day of her remaining life, helpless and alone at night with his beloved as she mumbled and stumbled in confusion. The brain slowly and cruelly shut down her functions at random and erased her memories, until she was just a breathing shell.
I ached and despaired for Phil, for Ruth, Sarah, the family and my Jess, as they were tortured by this dreadful ordeal in the dark of winter.
She stopped eating and drinking. Eventually the breath left her, and she grew cold, surrounded by her family at home in Artarmon, Sydney.
Funeral for Caroline Fitzmaurice
Monday 3rd August at 1.15pm
Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens and Crematorium
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