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Carole Rothfield

1933 – 2007

The entire bridge world was saddened by the death of Carole Rothfield, who passed away on 23 April, 2007. Carole was born in Philadelphia, USA on 21 January, 1933.

Universally admired and loved, Carole has been a force in Australian bridge for many years, representing her adopted country in 1997 and 1999 at the Bermuda Bowl with husband and partner Jessel.

Carole was an amazing person in her own right, talented, charming, strong and full of the joys of life. Her story is essentially a love story – she came to Australia as a result of being smitten with Jessel Rothfield, some 30-odd years ago, after being introduced by a friend at an American bridge tournament. Carole at that time was a businesswoman struggling to raise her family alone (she designed and manufactured exquisite jewellery).

After Jessel and Carole’s marriage in 1973, their respective families embraced one another, and the bonds of family remain strong. Like the Brady Bunch, Carole and Jessel’s two sets of siblings combined to live under the Rothfield roof.

Those of us who have been privileged enough to be part of a Rothfield clan gathering (Jessel’s amazing 85th birthday party at Coolum, Queensland, where the family ‘troops’ combined to produce and perform a military musical for the pair, for example), can only marvel at the joyfulness of all at each gathering.

I first met Carole and Jessel in the semi finals of the National Open Teams in 1992, when the other pair in their team was Jim & Norma Borin. Carole and Jessel have both done much over the years for the game in Australia, and have helped sponsor many up-and-coming younger players, including Ishmael Del’Monte, Kieran Dyke, Khokan Bagchi and Seamus Browne.

While the Rothfields (a term used with affection) had many successes in major Australian tournaments, including the NOT, 2005, Spring Nationals Open Teams, 1998, the VCC, 1996 and 2003, 1st and 2nd in the New Zealand National Open Teams in 2001 and 2001, The Maccabi International Bridge Tournament in 1997, the Autumn Nationals, 2001, the Surfers Teams, 1997, Carole also enjoyed success with other players. She represented Australia in the Women’s arena with Jan Cormack in 2003 (3rd in the PABF Women’s Championships), and won the prestigious NZ National Open Pairs in 2001 with Seamus Browne. Carole’s approach to the game was very modern, and the highly complex system she helped develop with Jessel worked well for her.

Carole became very ill during a bridge tournament in 2004, and the subsequent diagnosis of renal failure meant that the last three years of her life involved dialysis three times weekly. Carole took this in her stride, never complaining, and carrying on her many and varied interests via the telephone while hooked up to a dialysis machine. She always retained her wonderful smile and positive attitude to life. When asked how she was feeling, she would invariably reply along the lines of: “Every day is a blessing”. Carole played bridge the day before her death at the VBA, which in itself is a testament to her love for the game. Carole, I love you and miss you, and I will never forget your kindness, generosity and beauty. The world is a smaller place without you in it.

Stephen Lester

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