Flowstars who had the lasting pleasure of working with the extraordinary Kate Rau are deeply saddened by her untimely passing earlier this month from cancer. She was just 40 years old.
Kate joined Flow as a writer in Johannesburg towards the end of 2010. In September 2014, she moved to the Mother City to throw herself into her new role as manager of the agency’s Cape Town team – not only winning clients, but also their hearts, and those of her team.
A free spirit, she was funny and sassy. Sometimes jokingly referred to as “Kate the Great”, she loved to surprise the team with treats from The Velvet Cake Company, or from Honest Chocolate in Wale Street. We’d enjoy them on Flow’s enormous balcony with its million-dollar Table Mountain view, laughing.
She left Flow in December 2017 to pursue new horizons, but her legacy lingers. Her former colleagues recall her energy, spirit, hard work and sense of fun.
“Kate was a much-loved colleague, friend, mentor, kick-ass fighter, and lover of earth, food, drink, yoga and crystals. And dogs. She was a listener, a carer, and travelled with a neon yellow-and-red aura surrounding her. She brought incredible light and energy to any space she moved through. Kate was an incredibly skilled writer and doer of all things, and everyone – client or Flowstar – she came into contact with loved her,” says Flow managing director Tiffany Turkington-Palmer.
“We will miss you, dearest Kate, and although you have left a gaping hole in our lives, your light will always shine brightly.”
Project manager Ella Marren remembers Kate as a “truly beautiful soul”, with an infectious smile and a huge heart. “She used to call me dinges – she could never remember my name – so I also called her dinges. I will never forget you, Kate – today and always.”
Fellow project manager Ros Caboz adds, “No one who met you, Kate, can ever forget you, with your friendliness, beautiful smile, ginger glow, bubbly personality and that laugh! We remember your perfectly balanced lifestyle with your yoga and a love of the outdoors and nature.
“When I think of beautiful Cape Town, you will always be there, leaving us all with a touch of peace and tranquillity. Go well, dearest Kate.”
Richard Frank, Flow’s chief technology officer, says, “Kate was the best teammate to have on a year-end function challenge. I enjoyed 2013 especially – I don’t remember our Amazing Race team exactly winning anything, but we had a ball. We apparently made cupcakes at some point! We got sidetracked from our tasks and ended up having sundowners in a random part of Johannesburg, and then realised we had a Flow party to get back to.”
Roshni Nana, another member of the project management team, describes Kate as “intelligent, beautiful, mischievous, energetic, funny and, sometimes, over the top”. She says, “Kate was Kate! Kate was her long red hair that demanded you look twice. She was her smile that was ever-present on her pretty freckled face. She was that sparkle in her eye that drew you to her and held your gaze with warmth, love and reassurance.
“One could not ignore her presence or fail to be captivated by her. She loved and lived her life passionately and fearlessly. That was Kate! Farewell, my koeks.”
PR manager Caroline Smith recalls a vignette that, for her, encompassed working with Kate. “One morning I arrived at work to see Kate and her boyfriend at the time having a very intense argument in the parking lot. I knew, because I was her friend, that they were having ‘issues’, and I waited and walked in with her.
“At the entrance to the office, she stood still, kind of shook herself and looked at me with a big grin and said, ‘This is my time, not his time – I’m not going to let him ruin the amazing time that I have when I work, or make me forget how lucky I am that this is so much fun.’ She went inside and proceeded to, as always, have the most fun while getting the most done.”
Cape Town Flowstar Riefkah Adams recalls, “The simplest pleasures in life brought great joy to Kate. There was something so magnetic about Kate that the moment you were in her company, you were in awe. Maybe it was her beautiful long, red-orange hair, perhaps it was her lovely freckles, or maybe it was because she would just strike out a yoga pose at any given moment.
“Kate had the ability to find happiness in her daily activities and that was truly admirable – whether it was cycling to get fruit and vegetables at the local market or eating her chia pudding. Much love to the Great Kate, always.”
Writer and editor Willem Steenkamp adds that he is privileged to have known and worked with Kate, who was “passionate of spirit and caring of heart, not to mention skilled at writing”. He says, “Things were always brighter and more interesting when she was around, and she inspired the rest of us to be better at what we do. The world is a poorer place for her untimely passing; may she rest in peace.”
Flow CEO Tara Turkington remarks, “It’s hard to capture the magical, indomitable spirit of Kate in words. She was a colleague, sister and friend. She lived life fiercely and passionately. She cared deeply about people, the environment and animals. The world is a lesser place without her, but she lives on in the moon, the ocean, the African bush – her spirit will be with us forever.”
* Kate’s family has asked friends, colleagues and loved ones to consider donating to Nelspruit Hospice in memory of Kate: https://www.nelspruithospice.co.za/donations