Businesswoman pioneered travel services for All Black fans
Rosemary Williment is best remembered in Wellington as the joint founder of the highly successful international sports tour company Williment World Travel.
She started the company with her late husband Mick Williment, an All Black fullback from 1964-67, in 1968.
"Romey", as she was known to her friends, was the daughter of Gwynne and Marjorie Ellis. She spent her early years living at 326 Oriental Parade.
Her father's success in the Cyclax (NZ) cosmetics business meant Mrs Williment had a comfortable childhood during her schooldays at Hataitai Primary School, then as a boarder at Lower Hutt's Chilton Saint James.
Following graduation from Pitmans Secretarial School, and working with Cyclax, life became very real for the model, who also worked in those early days as secretary to the managing director at the House of Raymonde. In 1968, the Williments started out on the long, difficult journey of establishing their travel business soon after Mick Williment was controversially dropped by the All Black selectors in 1967.
The obstacles in those early days were so tough that the young couple were forced to live with their parents for a short time in order to make ends meet.
There was a certain irony in the fact that marriage and the challenge of helping establish a business meant a radical change of lifestyle for the privileged young woman.
While her husband bought and sold do-up properties, she quickly became the typical "Kiwi battler" who put bread on the table by selling candles in the lower North Island as a travelling saleswoman.
The Williments were establishing their business at the same time as two other former All Blacks, Kel Tremain and Dennis Young, were doing the same thing in Hawke's Bay and Canterbury respectively.
By the early 1970s, All Black supporters' tours had officially arrived on the landscape when Williment, Tremain and Young combined forces to put together a trip. Never again would All Black teams travelling overseas lack support.
Williment World Travel prospered despite difficult times, which included its offices, situated in the same Wellington building as the New Zealand Rugby Football Union, being targeted and egged by protesters during the controversial Springbok tour of 1981.
Mrs Williment took her children, Jo and Grant, on a holiday to Australia to get them away from the trauma surrounding the business.
The Williments drove their business for 26 years together before Mr Williment's early death from cancer, aged 54, in 1994. Mrs Williment remained at the helm until 2001 when she sold out to senior management.
In 1998, she married Warren Allen, a prominent Wellington lawyer who retired as the national managing partner of the Kensington Swan law firm.
For the first time in a long time, she had the opportunity to relax. There was nothing she liked better in her latter years, before her own death from cancer at Wellington Hospital, than gardening and mowing the lawns on her Martinborough property and fishing while staying at the family bach in the Marlborough Sounds.
She and Mr Allen also travelled a lot and made several international cruises. After leaving the travel business, she appreciated the fact she did not always have to be at the front of the bus meeting and greeting members of the company's loyal client base.
During her retirement years there were also several amusing incidents, including the saga at the Two Rooms Restaurant in Miramar, when she was forced to leave because she was wearing Van Cleef and Arpels perfume. The "stink" prompted a storm of worldwide media attention, with reporters from Britain and Australia clamouring for a whiff of the story.
Family meant a lot to her, and she was particularly proud of her children and her five grandchildren, who often found themselves beneficiaries of her love of shopping.
Her entrepreneurial All Black nephew and businessman Marc Ellis - son of her younger brother, Chris Ellis - was also a great source of pride for her.
Mrs Williment's funeral service was held at St Barnabas' Anglican Church in Roseneath, which played a large part in her life. As a young girl she attended Sunday School there. Both her weddings took place there and her daughter Jo was also married there.
When St Barnabas went through difficult times, she gave generously of her time and money to ensure its continued survival and refurbishment.
She also rolled her sleeves up alongside Andy Leslie and the late Bill Brien when members of the Centurions Rugby Club bought and refurbished their new clubrooms in Adelaide Rd, behind Athletic Park.
In their distinctive fashion the Williments were people ahead of their time in rugby's amateur environment. They were there when the floorboards of professional rugby in New Zealand were nailed down.
Rosemary Williment: b Wellington, August 29, 1944; m (1) Mick Williment (dec) 1s, 1d; (2) Warren Allen; d March 29, 2012, aged 67.
Sources: Williment family, Phil Campbell
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