May 16, 1960 – June 12, 2021
My world and the world lost a truly wonderful person when Paula Grey passed away on the night of 12 June, aged 61. Her husband Doug’s description of her as a gentle and kind person is absolutely right, and he should know better than anyone, given that they married in England on November 25, 1978; she 18, he 20. They had five children, who share Doug’s desolation at the loss of someone who died long before her due time.
Paula came into my life on January 11, 1991 as my PA, and became my eyes, ears, fingers, hands, and above all else, my brains – and, on occasion, the Pinocchio on my shoulder (that was as close as we came to ever exchange cross words). Her output via her computer was phenomenal, and there was no way that the Wine Companion could have grown as it did without her acute intelligence in database building and management, extending to shortcuts to the point where it was akin to artificial intelligence. On occasion, it would fail and very odd words would appear in the printed document, when her self-deprecating sense of humour would break out, never far from the surface.
She never stopped learning and asking questions about technical wine issues, and, where and when needed, softly polish my tasting notes where she was sure of her ground. Her skill in handling incoming phone calls was one of her greatest strengths. No matter how ill she felt, she would respond to the ‘How are you?’ question saying ‘I’m lovely!’ and find out what the caller needed to speak to me about. More often than not, she would be able to answer the question or provide the information so deftly that the caller forgot the need to speak to me.
Time may fill the hole in my heart but will never heal it.
Paula was passionate about the need for medical care in remote areas. The Royal Flying Doctor Service was the organisation that she donated to very generously. If you would also like to donate to the RFDS in memory of Paula, please visit flyingdoctor.org.au and follow the links.
Top image: James Halliday's own photo of the outlook from the Yarra Valley office he shared with Paula Grey.