By Jim Moore

A caricature of Paddy by the late Mariana Musa commissioned for HOMME Magazine when Paddy was a popular regular contributor.

Paddy has always been an indomitable force.

Born in the tiny town of Padiham, England in 1925, the only child to George and Emma Fort, she set her sights on Oxford University, achieving her goal in the mid 40s after obtaining her first degree in Manchester University. In Oxford she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Tony Benn, Philip Larkin and Baroness Warnock.

Christened Pearl, a name she never warmed to, when asked her name by fellow undergraduates on the train journey to university, she answered P…Paddy after her hometown and the name stayed with her the rest of her life.

Post degree and post war Paddy taught English Literature and Language in Bradford but wanderlust was in her and she applied for a post in Lima, one of her few misses but was quickly offered a post teaching Logic in the Law department of Singapore University that she took up in 1955 after a six day journey via India. Here she met many up and coming intellectual young Malaysians many of whom would enter prominent positions in what was to be the rapidly developing post Merdeka era.

More importantly she met her first husband, lawyer and cricketer Carl Schubert. Carl became a Judge and for many years was Manager of The Malaysian Cricket Team.

Eventually head hunted by Shell, Paddy became the Trade Relations Director on the Main Board of the Shell Group of Companies in Malaysia – the first woman in the world-wide Shell Group to attain Board status.

She was in the vanguard of women in prominent positions in this fast developing nation and was proudly made a Malaysian citizen in 1961. Paddy was befriended by the Malaysian elite: Royalty, ministers, lawyers and many, many others. By now she was a lady of considerable influence.

Together, Carl & Paddy adopted two boys, Peter in 1960 & Richard in 1963. The family seemed complete. However, in 1969, Carl was admitted to Assunta Hospital with severe stomach pains and due to the curfew, visiting was limited. When Paddy and the boys finally made it in to see him, Carl had with him a beautiful baby girl who had been abandoned. Hearts melted and Samantha added that special magic to the Schubert clan.

Paddy joked she had the only husband in Kuala Lumpur who went into hospital with a stomach-ache and came out with a baby girl.

Sadly, Carl died suddenly in 1975. Paddy now had the new role of single working mother. Her corporate life continued to grow and many experiences were stored for future use. Once, in the early 60s, she had welcomed an oilman from Mississippi. The only suitable hotel at the time was The Federal in KL. In the lobby was a large sign NO DURIANS ALLOWED IN THIS HOTEL. Her guest came down the stairs asking ‘Say Paddy – who are the durians and why are they not allowed in this hotel?”

A magnificent example she frequently cited of the cultural baggage we take with us to new countries and into new employment.

Retirement at 55 was not for Paddy and in 1981 she opened her own Business consultancy, Paddy Schubert Sdn Bhd.

Her accomplishments are far too many to mention today. Let’s cite only a few.

She was the Malaysia Country Manager of The Economist Conferences Group and ran her own Malaysia Regional Programme, bringing together at CEO level Malaysian and international business figures, investors and government leaders in an intellectual crucible cum think tank where she crystallized the discussions from the room.

Paddy was a prolific writer – of speeches, reports, press releases, news, opinion pieces, film scripts and books. She wrote for many publications – Fortune Magazine, The Economist, International Herald Tribune. Asian Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, HOMME Magazine and, of course, the New Straits Times.

Paddy was a debater, an extremely articulate chair of many difficult meetings and in presentation and speech delivery she was second to none.

A founder member, Paddy was Chair of the Malaysian Institute of Management for several years in the late 70s. She addressed World Management Conferences in Munich, Caracas, New Delhi, Lima, Adelaide and Kuala Lumpur.

In 2000, she was called upon to sum up at the end of APEC in Brunei where Bill Clinton, Ziang Zhe Min and Vladimir Putin had presented over the 2 day event. Taking the stage in the final moments as many in the audience were considering a hasty retreat, she started “They say it ain’t over till the fat lady sings – well if I promise not to sing, hopefully I can refer to a few of the highlights. What a celebrated group of world leaders we have listened to here. USA, Russia and China, let me consult my notes.’ Donning her spectacles, “Now what did they actually say, let me see…they said…absolutely nothing!)

Paddy was conferred the title Datuk in 1996 and was awarded two honorary Doctorates, one from Melon University in the US and another from Nottingham University in Malaysia. In 2008, she was presented with the Order of The British Empire by HE Boyd McCleary here in KL as she was a Malaysian citizen.

Paddy loved festivals, Christmas, Raya, Chinese New Year, Diwali and the whole concept of open house. She would say – I can’t cook, I can’t sew, I can’t sing – but I can speak and I can write for my beloved Malaysia. A true Malaysian patriot, but still a strong Brit, Paddy represented her countries on many platforms. Scotland was a particular love and as ASEAN Trade Representative for Strathclyde she led several trade missions here in Malaysia, in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and around the region. Hence, her love of bagpipes and all things Scottish.

In 1979, Paddy married John Bowie, originally from Scotland and subsequently a lengthy career in tin mining in Malaysia. As with Carl, this marriage lasted 18 years ending with John’s death in 1997.

Tragically, Paddy outlived all three of her children; Peter passed in 2004, Richard in 2006 and Samantha in 2016. All three were much loved by Paddy and it is her wish to finally rest alongside them. Samantha and Ollie presented Paddy with three wonderful grandchildren, Jodie, Harry and Tom, her multiracial, multicultural, multi everything family.

Tom, Paddy, Samantha, Harry & Jodie. The Paddy Family.

Paddy’s heart and spirit lived on. Paddy always lived in the present although nostalgia held its much-cherished place.

Paddy loved to laugh. She loved to dine out. She loved crime fiction. She loved to socialize and to dance. She loved to shop and to travel. She loved to read. She loved art, music and theatre. She loved life and led an extraordinary and very fulfilled one.

Her dear friend, Mike Thomson, says of her ‘ I have been lucky enough to see you in sparkling action on multiple occasions whether in London, where your talks to the British Malaysia Society, always delivered with panache, invariably attracted a full house, or in KL where I have been able to attend a number of your equally successful seminars. These professional contributions, along with so much else, including your film on Tun Dr Mahathir, your authoritative work on Petronas and your major role with The Economist, will ensure a lasting legacy.

As they say, we shall not see your like again.

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