Former NSW premier Bob Carr has farewelled his wife of 50 years in a moving tribute after describing the heartbreaking moment she died in his arms.
Helena Carr was remembered as an accomplished businesswoman who was full of zest and joy, at her funeral at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney on Tuesday.
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The 77-year-old died after losing consciousness as a result of a brain aneurysm while on holiday with her husband in the Austrian capital Vienna last month.
Carr said his wife was “the CEO, the CFO, the chief strategist and the financial planner” of their marriage, which he described as a “half-century collaboration”.
Recalling their first encounter, the former political heavyweight said he was just a “gawky kid from Matraville” when they met in early 1971 while he was on a stop-over in Tahiti.
“You are my lucky star,” Carr said.
“No partner could have smiled more than she did as we walked across Vienna, having fun on that last day”.
Earlier, he described the moment that evening when she collapsed in their hotel bathroom, falling into his arms before closing her eyes for the last time.
“We seemed to be at peace in our 50-year partnership,” Carr said.
“We accepted without admitting it that our time would not be forever.”
Born in Malaysia to an Indian father and Chinese mother, Carr came to Australia to finish high school in the 1960s before studying economics at the University of Sydney.
She went on to be a successful business leader, heading the security printing division of drinks giant Coca-Cola Amatil before jointly buying a major printing firm from the John Sands Group in the early 1990s.
Helena Carr sold the firm in a multimillion dollar deal in 2004, a year before her husband stepped down as the longest-serving premier in NSW history.
Carr, who in 2012 returned to parliament as a federal senator and foreign minister in the Gillard government, said his wife loved “the play, the humour, the personality” of politics.
“It’s inconceivable I could have done this for the party without Helena by my side,” he added.
Political heavyweights joined leading figures from the media and other industries to commemorate Helena Carr’s life.
They included NSW Premier Chris Minns and Carr’s Labor successor, Morris Iemma, as well as former Victorian premier Steve Bracks.
Former prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Paul Keating were also present, the latter of whom accompanied Carr out of the church.
Ex-News Limited boss Kim Williams and broadcaster Alan Jones also attended.
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