Johanna Willy Woodmansterne (née Leurink) 21 Jan 1926 – 1 Aug 2016
My mother died in peace on the 1st of August in the nursing home that has been her home for the last 18 months or so. Although in recent years she had lost her ability to recall what was happening around her day to day, she thankfully recognised her family and the ones she loved right to the end.
Mrs Woodmansterne (simply ‘Mrs’ to all the staff at Woodmansterne) together with my father Graham, started the business back in 1953. They had met in 1947, during one of his lecture tours in Holland, when she offered, on the spur of the moment, to translate, live to an audience, one of his colourslide lectures. The souvenir photographic business they eventually formed together moved to Watford soon after they were married in 1953. Their colourslides (the business made over 2 million in one year at its peak) became treasured by lecturers and tourists the world over.
My father was the one with the dreams, but my mother was the practical, down-to-earth realist. Together they made a formidable pair. Later, as his health and strength declined, her confidence, as a Dutch girl in England, grew. She became managing director in the 1970s eventually retiring to nurse him in his last years before his death in 1987.
Johanna, managed to live on her own in the big family house, coming in to the office for the occasional lunch until relatively recently. She was a keen member of the Watford branch of Inner Wheel and played an active role in her music group of her local U3A (University of The Third Age). She loved music, went regularly to concerts and supported the local Purcell School. But it was the business that was her life’s work and interest. It is to her that we owe much of our ethical and uncompromising straightforwardness.
Goodbye Mama, you rest in peace now.