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Odile Leroux

Odile was one of those typical local pillars of many Old Reuter bureaux around the world on whose historical memory - something that seems to be going rapidly out of the window today - and insider knowledge of current politics every outsider, from chief correspondents down to youngsters on their first posting, learned to rely. In Paris, she combined this role with Louis Marcerou and, not always totally happily, with Gilbert Sedbon.

When I arrived in Paris from Moscow without passing Go on the eve of the presidential elections in 1981, Odile and Louis provided exactly the support a total newcomer to French domestic politics desperately needed. With her strong views on almost everything, she was not always the easiest person to work with over the longer term but under the tough exterior she was one of the personally kindest colleagues I have ever come across.

Hearing of her sad passing brings to mind her almost lookalike and soundalike, Jane Braga, who in the Rio bureau during the 1960s and 1970s played the same role as Odile in Paris. Another Reuter lady whose trenchant opinions were not to be brooked, but with a heart of gold. And without whom yet another nerve centre of the Reuter network would have been very much poorer.  ■