Sisters in Crime is sad to announce the death of its President, Vivienne Colmer, who died at home on Monday 16 January, at the age of 61, from cancer.
In October, Vivienne became Sisters in Crime’s second National President. She made a wonderful welcoming speech to SheKilda3, Sisters in Crime’s 25th anniversary convention held on 19 November. None of us anticipated that her resurgent cancer would cut her down so quickly.
Vivienne welcoming convention-goers at SheKilda3
On 13 March 2015 Vivienne Colmer became the first Sister to be made a Life Member. She served as a National Convenor from 1999-2011, bringing brought her superb organising skills from the union movement to Sisters in Crime. She was the key organiser for SheKilda, Sisters in Crime’s 10th anniversary convention, held at St Kilda Town Hall in 2001.
She secured out international guest of honour, Tart Noir Queen, Lauren Henderson though it was touch and go for a bit. Lauren was living in New York where the Town Towers were bombed shortly before the convention. Then there was the Qantas strike. Vivienne coped with all these challenges with her usual cool head and great strategic sense. SheKilda was a triumph, despite being organised in record time.
Secretary Carmel Shute presents Vivienne with her Life-Time Membership
Former National Convenor, Katrina Beard, emailed this tribute: “Viv was always so much like a big gust of wind through a room. Sharp, funny, intelligent and gorgeous in that total great-broads-of-the-world kind of way. I loved her company when I was a Sister and will miss knowing her warm presence is still in the world.”
As well as having impeccable taste in crime writing and being and a woman of wit and wisdom, Vivienne was also an outstanding trade unionist leader. She worked for the Administrative & Clerical Officers Association in Adelaide and, after union amalgamation in 1989, was the ABC National Officer for the Community & Public Sector Union In Sydney. She played a key role in the “Big Dispute” of 1991 at the ABC. Her responsibilities later shifted to looking after the CES.
In the mid-nineties, Vivienne moved to Melbourne to be with her true love, Richard Fields, then the ABC Sound Librarian. She then took time out and completed two Masters and took up a new career as a social planner in local government – Boroondara, Greater Dandenong and Bayside.
After her first bout of breast cancer more than a decade ago, Vivienne became an active member of the Breast Cancer Network’s Dragon Boat team which competed in state, national and international competitions. In September her team competed in a competition on the Thames in extremely rough conditions.
There isn’t going to be a funeral but there is a viewing – 6.30-7.30pm Friday 20 January, Tobin Brothers, 1382 High St., Malvern – and a celebration of her life, tentatively set for Saturday 8 April. (Full details will be notified when confirmed.)
Condolences can be sent to Richard Fields, 12 Pilley Street, East St Kilda 3183