Annemarie Maggs, known to her grandchildren as 'Grannemarie', fled to the UK from Austria in 1939 at the age of 14. Although she was raised Roman Catholic, her mother was a non-practising Jew, and after the Anschluss it wasn't safe for the family to remain within the grasp of the Third Reich. Annemarie's UK visa was due to run out one month after the start of the Second World War. Who knows what would have happened had the war not begun when it did.
She settled permanently in the UK along with her mother and, after the war, her father, and acquired perfect English. Annemarie lived in a number of different places in the early years, and every time her address changed she had to register with the local police station. After all, Austria was now part of Germany, so she was an 'enemy alien.' She met Norman Maggs at an evening class and they married in 1944 when Annemarie was 20. Their only child, Peter, was born in 1945 and soon after his birth they moved to 12 Marlborough Road in Ealing, West London, which was to be their home for the next 60 years. Some of you may have visited Marlborough Road - once seen, never forgotten! Annemarie never threw anything away, whether that be a card from a friend, a book, a broken appliance or a piece of plastic wrapping.
Annemarie was highly intelligent, extremely kind, and mad as a box of frogs. The intelligence and kindness she would have vigorously denied, but her eccentricity she happily acknowledged. She was a prolific letter-writer with a vast correspondence until just a few years before her death, when increasing frailty impaired both her memory and energy levels. Much of her working life was spent as personal assistant to a number of Professors at Brunel College of Technology, later Brunel University: principally John Burnett and, later, John Vaizey. Upon her retirement John Burnett wrote: 'She has been far more than a secretary – counsellor, confidante, cook, nurse, surrogate senior tutor if not Head of Department … She has been the fount of knowledge, the social pivot of the department.' After Norman's death in 2008 and her move to Chelmsford, Annemarie used to comment on how nice everyone was. "That's because you're nice to everyone," we explained, but she never accepted that explanation. It was not unusual for her to give a taxi driver a 100% tip, for example.
Annemarie spent her last ten years at Albion Court in Chelmsford, where she made many friends and enjoyed coffee mornings, bingo and taking her family out for meals for which she insisted on paying. She remained at Albion Court until just a few weeks before her death at Okeley Care Home on 4th June 2018. Annemarie was a devout Catholic, and her funeral will take place at 11am on Monday 9th July at the Church of Our Lady Immaculate on New London Road, Chelmsford, followed by a committal at Chelmsford Crematorium. If you plan to attend, we would like to encourage you to wear bright colours in memory of a lady who lived her life joyfully, whose joyful life was long, and who died in the hope of resurrection. Annemarie and Norman’s wish was that their ashes be mixed together and interred in the garden of rest at Stoke Poges, with the legend ‘Together forever’. The family would love it if donations in lieu of flowers might be given to Safe Passage, a charity which works to find safe and legal routes to sanctuary for today's unaccompanied child refugees.
Annemarie Theresia Emma Maggs, 1924-2018
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