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Marlene Roper RIP

Marlene Roper, honorary member of Soroptimist International of Bradford, died on June 8th at home after more than four months in hospitals.

Marlene was a member of Soroptimist International for over thirty years and a member of the Bradford Club for all that time. Each of you will have your own special picture or image in your mind of Marlene.

At the meeting last evening we shared some of those; a glamorous, elegant figure, full of warmth and fun, a zippy driver, with an infectious laugh, a distinctive voice who always made a point of welcoming people and valuing them and being valued in return. ‘Marlene will know’, ‘Marlene will consider and reduce this to manageable proportions’. We missed her presence acutely last night.

Marlene’s category was ‘secretary’ and she discovered Soroptimist International when she saw a notice about it displayed at Leeds/Bradford Airport at that time. She made further enquiries and at least two Bradford members knew her and were delighted to propose membership for her. She was a wonderful example of a true volunteer!

Marlene was President of SI Bradford 1985-86, following which she became secretary for the Yorkshire Region of Soroptimist International, before being elected Yorkshire President 1993-94. She was an enthusiastic supporter of conferences both in the UK and Overseas.

In her presidential year, the charities supported by Marlene included; Sue Ryder, Bradford’s war on Cancer and the education of a child in Africa but it was also the year of the Bradford City Football Fire Disaster and Marlene wrote to all the clubs, nationally and internationally for their support. As a result she was able to present to the Chairman of the Appeal Committee, a cheque for £1,475, quite a sum in those days.

Marlene was one of the first Executive Members of the Bradford Schools Drugs Prevention Initiative, founded by the Bradford club with other partners. She was always the one to raise awareness of the Soroptimist Benevolent Fund and invested in ‘Number 63’, the Soroptimist residential club in London. Several visits were organised for Bradford members and their friendship links. Through Marlene, the friendship link with the SI club in Biel Biene, was maintained and Marlene arranged a very special visit there only last year.

Marlene had many other interests and was Chairman of the Housing Management Committee of the Abbeyfield Bradford Society and also a member of the Abbeyfield Regional Committee. She was a member of the Court for Women’s’ Interests at Bradford University and a school Governor, for a local primary school, ensuring the promised inside toilets were installed during its renovations amongst other things.

In her career as Secretary, she became secretary to the Chairman and several  Managing Directors of the Bradford company of Hepworth and Grandage and also taught Pitman shorthand to evening classes at Bradford College. Marlene was an early member of the European Association of Professional Secretaries and enrolled for a course of study with the Open University in its first year of operation and was duly awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree. Marlene and her husband had a great love of classical music and opera.  

The Bradford Club celebrated its 80th Anniversary last November and President Lynn was unable to attend, Marlene as usual escorted by her husband, Richard, gave a spirited vote of thanks to our guests.

On visits to see Marlene in hospital in the latter weeks, she was more interested in the Yorkshire Conference and supporting Yorkshire President Pat than herself and her health.

Fellow members and friends feel privileged to have known Marlene and will long remember her kindness, her support and her uplifting enthusiasm in numerous fields.

Our thanks to Stella H.Carpenter and club members for compiling and writing this obituary.