Marie's Life Story

It is said that some people's life can be measured in what they leave behind, while others, by how they are remembered by those they leave behind.

Marie OConnell

Marie, started her remarkable life’s journey, when she was born to the Louw Family in Calvinia, South Africa at 11h45, on the 12th September 1927.

She was the eldest of four sisters born to Lucas and Bathseba Louw who lived in South West Africa, now named Namibia.

Born in the years preceding the Second World War she had three sisters, namely, Elise, Betsy and Talitha who by 2016 had 14 grandchildren living in South Africa, Namibia and Canada.

Marie, who matriculated from the Windhoek Girls High School in 1944, took up a position as a nurse the following year at the Frere Hospital in East London and worked as a theatre sister for many years being well known for showing extreme compassion and consideration to those under her charge.

She was married to Jack O’Connell on the 3 August 1950, making for a loving 60-year marriage and conceived two sons named Lucas and Geoffrey.

Marie then commenced working for a firm of attorneys as a Para-legal Department Assistant. After hours, she enrolled on a part-time secretarial course during the tough economic times following the great depression.

As soon as she had qualified she was employed by the Eastern Province Rugby Union in SA as a secretary. Shortly after this, due to an unfortunate set of circumstances Marie would enter a man’s world and become the only lady Rugby Administrator in the world during her career in South Africa.

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Marie, after completing a distinguished career as a rugby administrator retired from the world of sports administration to be with her family.

Shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 59 and in coping with her condition worked tirelessly for the Cancer Association of South Africa and was awarded a 25 Year Service Certificate for her outstanding dedication to the Red Cross organization as a Ladies in Blue Nursing and Hospice Volunteers during 2005.

Marie during this time also organized several workshops for patients suffering with Cancer and Leukemia, and would arrange for keynote speakers to lecture patients on why innocent people suffer as well as the various stages of grief patients needed to become familiar with.

She, while attending St Marks church as a founding member, also worked on developing her own cancer booklet titled, “Cancer, Jesus and me”, in which she explicitly discloses the emotional ups and downs she experienced during her own diagnosis and journey with ‘Charlie’, the name she had chosen for her cancer.

Marie's conversational skills, sharp sense of humor, and prudent business and personal advice was sage-like and most uplifting to all of those she came into contact with. Her consideration for all of those around her was unprecedented, while she not only took the time to leave her affairs in order, but secretly compiled “Life and Operating Manuals” for all of those close to her.

Amazingly these manuals, letters and messages would come to play a pivotal role in the formation of our foundation and the amazing way in which God works in each of our lives, if only we open the channel to him.

It is her legacy of selfless care and compassion rooted in her Faith that we as a foundation wish to emulate on the road ahead.