I only learnt of Rita Siows passing yesterday. I was of course shocked and saddened, I only spoke with her on the phone a few weeks ago and she was her usual buoyant and interesting self, both interested in what I was doing and equally interesting about her own activities.
Rita was passionate about design education for young people and was a mentor for many students .
Her life has changed since her husband passed away a few years ago but she seemed to have gained a new equilibrium and contentment.
Rita and I met when she came to Melbourne, usually for diner. On one happy occasion with her husband John .
We had a warm friendship which had developed since Rita was AGDAs General Manager and during my time as Nation President of AGDA.
As general Manager she was of course efficient and organised, and introduced many improvements and innovations. Student Awards, Design Effectiveness Awards and in recent years managing the Hall of Fame.
Heading up an organisation that is voluntary in its make up, especially with those elected to leadership roles can be tricky as a variety of ideas can develop on any given subject that can lead to differences of opinion .
This is true especially because AGDA is a federation of state based chapters each with its own state president and committee.
Rita’s skill was to balance these state based issues where often a consensus was required in order to achieve national objectives.
Getting decisions on some issues was not always easy especially where all the players could not meet round the table at one time.
Some how decisions were made and initiatives achieved . I think many times because if Rita’s skill and personality.
I think Rita made a huge contribution to the running of AGDA but also to shaping its ‘personality’ as a design organization that was about representing members interests but above all to its ability to look outside of itself and represent design to business and the Australian community