Honouring Rowena Escobar

Impact Coaches – Sandra Oliver, MBA

We received the very sad news that Rowena Escobar passed away after a four-year battle with cancer, at the age of 43.  Rowena worked with our family for 12 years, first as a caregiver for our family, then very quickly as an Executive Assistant, and finally as an Office Administrator for Impact Coaches. It didn’t take long for us to recognize her innate talent and move her into Impact. She worked with Impact for 10 years.

Rowena was one of the warmest and most unwaveringly positive people I’ve known, always wanting to help and give to others. Morna Lee, our Client and Marketing Manager, (also an amazing and giving person) trained Rowena when she first began working with our home team.  Rowena had never worked in an office and Morna had to teach her. It was worth it. Rowena shone.

Rowena loved helping

Four years ago, Rowena was first diagnosed with cancer and left for serious treatment, saying she needed to focus on her health. We were sad and stayed in touch.  Eventually, the cancer was under some control and Rowena asked to return because she liked the team and liked working. She came back as the Office Administrator, and she was perfect for it. She was happy – and we were, too.

And then the cancer came back again, hard. She wanted to continue to work through all the treatment. It was clear she was very ill. All we could do was talk to her and trust that she knew what she wanted. That was hard. Elaine Muzyczka and I talked to her a lot. We wanted to make sure what she was doing was right for her. In every conversation, she always smiled and thanked us for letting her work. She said she loved working. It made her feel useful and productive.

We could see how ill she was. She was open about her struggles and was frail the last few months. When I got the news yesterday, it hit me hard. It will always feel like that. Loss never really goes away. I am struck by how much she touched me personally. And, like everything, I wanted to reflect. Why was she so special to me and to others here at Impact?

Beautiful. Smile. Always.

Rowena was always smiling. Her mere presence lifted my mood every time I saw her— especially in person. She was very present in our lives. She liked to come to meetings, to be included and to be in the office with us, even when she was very sick. She was always interested in making other peoples’ lives easier. She always asked how people were and how she could help. She loved working and being useful. She saw everything as a hill to climb and she did her best to climb it. Even with small things, like eating oatmeal, which was one of the few things she could eat at the end, she smiled and said she was trying to eat oatmeal, “because the doctor wants me to keep up my strength.”

Our relationship always felt personal because she exuded such warmth. Even when she was very sick, Rowena didn’t dwell. She tried her best to work through things. And she always asked how I was and how David and the kids were.

The secret to happiness

For me, when I get frustrated or feel “put upon”, sorry for myself or angry – which is common for founders (probably some of the source of much dysfunction in “founders syndrome”) – I will remember how Rowena never felt sorry for herself. How she always looked on the bright side and cared for others. How that is the secret to happiness. That is a leader. Unwavering positivity and industry through all barriers. No matter the level you’re at in a company.

Rowena’s husband, Chris, and son, CJ, were the lights of her life. She looked after them and supported them in everything they did, even throughout her illness. She always focused on them and their wellbeing, working and staying strong partly so she could take care of them. She seemed concerned about what they might lose rather than what she would miss out on. CJ went with her everywhere. She talked about him all the time.

Our team will miss Rowena’s incredible positivity, willingness to lend a hand, her reliability, and her flexibility to tackle any task or challenge given to her with enthusiasm. We will miss her warm smile and quiet presence in our office and her genuine care for others, even when she was undergoing treatment that made her feel so unwell.  She was both incredibly brave and grateful to the very end.

I will always think of Rowena and try to emulate her warm and giving nature. Her legacy will be how she made us all better. Especially me.

Sandra Oliver

Founder, Impact Coaches Inc.
Impact Coaches – Sandra Oliver, MBA

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