Former NSW premier Bob Carr’s wife Helena dies after brain aneurysm

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Former NSW premier and foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has announced the death of his wife, Helena, after a brain aneurysm, describing her as the light of his life whose support underpinned his political career.

In a statement, Carr said his partner of 50 years had collapsed in his arms in a hotel bathroom in Vienna on Thursday night and never regained consciousness.

He said he had been advised by doctors that she was officially dead.

Bob Carr and Helena Carr near the Vienna Opera in Austria.

“Her little heart continues to beat, but her brain has haemorrhaged with a massive amount of blood,” the statement said.

“She was the light of my life, the little friend always there. No one ever smiled more, or with more spirit.

“It is inconceivable I could have won office for my party and held the premiership for over 10 years without the steadiness of her companionship, her sense of fun and her lambent eyes.”

Carr described the hours before her death, saying they had spent the earlier part of the day walking through Vienna, having lunch with Australian friends and going to the opera.

Premier Bob Carr with wife Helena after winning preselection in 1996.Credit: Jon Reid

“She was full of zest and jokes as we walked back to our hotel. Within 20 minutes she referred to strange back pain, then a headache and nausea,” he said in the statement.

“Our 50-year partnership ended in the hotel bathroom when she sunk into my arms and I broke her fall to the floor. Her eyes closed for the last time while I begged her not to leave me.”

Carr said he first met Helena on a trip back from the US during a stopover in Tahiti in early 1971 and said she was an accomplished businesswoman.

“As a girl in Taiping, Malaysia, she had written letters to Australian schools and was accepted by Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta. She later studied economics at Sydney University. At OLMC and Sancta Sophia College, she showed a huge gift for making friends. Every holiday was a visit with farm families who took a fondness to this sparkling beautiful girl from Malaysia,” he said.

“She was an accomplished businesswoman. Her first job in business was with CSR. She later became an expert in security printing and was appointed to the board of the biggest company in the field before becoming the half-owner and manager of a sizeable print company that specialised in high-quality commercial work.”

NSW Labor Premier Chris Minns said on Saturday: “The entire Labor family is devastated by the news.

“Bob and Helena were a wonderful partnership, with Helena offering unconditional support to Bob and Labor during his years in the premiership. Helena was also a very successful businesswoman in her own right.

“We feel for Bob and are concerned for him. The entire Labor family will be waiting for him to offer our friendship and support upon his return to Australia.”

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