Christiane Cowell: Always calm and cheerful
Friday 19 January 2018
I first met Christiane, then aged 25 or 26, when I was posted to Bonn in late 1970 as chief representative Germany. She was one of an all-female team of teleprinter operators in the smallish newsroom. (At that time all teleprinter operators in London were male!)
Some months after my arrival everything changed in Bonn when relations between Reuters and DPA, the West German news agency, were suddenly broken and Reuters decided to set up the "Reuter German-Language News Service". This meant that in a few extremely hectic months before the year's end we had to hire a team of German-language journalists to provide the new service, to establish sales contacts between the editor or manager/owners of a large number of German newspapers and radio stations, and to reconstruct the existing office to accommodate the needs of the new situation.
At the start of all this I decided to appoint Christiane as my secretary and administrative assistant. For most of the next two years she did the job superlatively, particularly in establishing contacts for me and a team of German-speaking helpers from head office with the aforementioned editors and owners. She was always calm and cheerful and gave a huge boost to the morale of all involved. For most of this period Christiane had become a firm family friend, and she and her very young daughter, Beate, spent many happy weekend days with us at our home in Bad Godesberg.
Early in 1973 I was posted back to London and Michael Reupke succeeded me in Bonn. Christiane remained en poste with Michael, and later with Annette, until her career developed first in new offices in Bonn and then in Berlin, once again the capital of a reunited Germany. We kept in touch very occasionally through cards or telephone calls.
Christiane's long illness in the last few years was a blow to all who knew or loved her, but she remained typically brave throughout. Through this means I send my sincere condolences to the members of her family now gathered in her apartment in Berlin. ■