This article was first published in April 2016.
The Rose Lady, Rada and Rosie are some of the names she was called. But one thing that never changed was the impact she made.
Many may not know her real name was Radenka Zvirkic, But over 25 years she touched thousands of lives as the friendly face in Wollongong selling roses in pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Even those who did not buy a flower from her were left with a smile. And that will remain her legacy after people from all walks of life say goodbye at her funeral on Friday. They will all have one thing in common. Fond memories of the quietly spoken unassuming lady who added colour wherever she went. Couples so looked forward to seeing the Rose Lady that a romantic night out was not quite the same without her dropping in to say hello. And while selling flowers was how she made a living she never put any pressure on anyone to buy.
Mrs Zvirkic’s son Alan Adams said she died on the weekend after a three month battle with cancer. She was 67 and had lived in Figtree for 35 years. She migrated from Yugoslavia, initially lived in Sydney and became an Australian citizen in 1974.
Mr Adams said his mother decided to start selling flowers when she was 42. She was looking for a new source of income and discovered she really enjoyed greeting and chatting to people. Particularly couples on a romantic night out. “When she started doing it 25 years ago I remember her going to work for the first time just to see how it would go”.
Selling flowers started out of necessity to find work. But she found she liked it so much it did not feel like a job. “She really loved getting out and meeting people. She liked the interactions she had. It just kept going. Before she knew it she had been doing it for 25 years,” Mr Adams said.
Mrs Zvirkic previously worked in home care where she was noted for a having a gift that made people feel better whenever she was around. Mr Adams said being the son of the Rose Lady resulted in him getting many hugs. “People keep telling me how lovely my mum is. And I always hear people talking about her fondly. I often did not let on I was her son because I liked to hear what they were saying. It was always good. And it was always heartwarming to hear. When I first got my P plates I used to drive her around.”
Mr Adams said his mother never sought attention but it appears she made a big difference in many lives. As a mother he described her as loving, caring, understanding and always there for him. Her funeral is 10am Friday at Rankins Funerals in Warrawong.
Mr Adams does not know how many people are likely to attend because he doesn’t exactly know how many people his mother knew. And no one may ever know just how many lives she touched in a positive way. But Mr Adams said she did stay in touch with some of the couples she initially sold flowers to 25 years ago and knew their children...and in some cases their grandchildren.
He said it seemed people always looked forward to seeing her.
“It is heartwarming to know she chose to do something that was so special to a lot of people. She was someone so tender and kind and loving to everyone.”