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Innovative and popular headmistress remembered

December 12th, 2017

An innovative and popular headmistress, who was renowned for her stylish leadership qualities and a sparkling sense of humour, has died at the age of 87.

Patricia (Phillips) Caspari was the Headmistress at Monmouth School for Girls for five years from 1981 to 1986.

A former Vice-Principal at Hereford Sixth Form College, Mrs Caspari was known as Mrs Phillips (nee Sexton) when she arrived in Monmouth to succeed Miss Audrey Page’s 21-year tenure at the school.

After retirement, Mrs Caspari became an Ofsted inspector and lived in a beautiful house in Cotheridge, Worcestershire.

The life of the former headmistress, who was educated at University College, Dublin and worked at Chase Secondary Modern School, Malvern and Ellerslie School for Girls, Malvern, will be celebrated later this week.

Mrs Caspari will be remembered in a requiem mass at St George’s Catholic Church in Worcester on Friday at 11am, followed by a private cremation.

Miss Linda Wright, a former colleague who taught Biology at Monmouth School for Girls for 34 years, said: “Mrs Phillips brought elegance and style to the leadership, along with no small measure of quick witted humour.

“On remembering her at work, it is impossible not to envisage Mrs Phillips’ smile, and how easily she saw the funny side of everything.

“She was generous and entertaining, and would often open the drinks cupboard for her staff on occasions when problems needed solving and relationships restoring.

“This, along with her perspicacity and wise counsel, would always save the day.

“She picked the school up and moved it forward very quickly with innovative courses, new staff and even duty rotas that had never existed before.”

In Paris, she met Bob Phillips, whom she married in 1951, and he later became a scientist at the Radar Research Establishment in Malvern, where he did distinguished and innovative work.

He died suddenly in 1979.

In 1983, while at Monmouth School for Girls, she married another scientist, Max Caspari, a widower with whose family she and Bob had become close friends when they spent four years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Both marriages were wonderfully happy. Mr Caspari died in 2001.

Mrs Caspari took immense pleasure in all the members of her large family on both sides of the Atlantic.

Miss Wright remembers the former headmistress fondly as a visionary at Monmouth School for Girls.

“The changing of the guard came as something of a shock as the longstanding rules and rhythm of the school was disturbed by the arrival of this much younger visionary,” recalled Miss Wright.

“With the introduction of new technology, carbon copied reports and antiquated office equipment became a thing of the past; her novel ideas and strategies felt like the metaphorical equivalent of opening the windows to let the summer breeze in.

“She is remembered with respect and affection by those who served under her and will be much missed.”

Mrs Caspari spent the last few years of her life in a Malvern retirement home, Davenham.

She is survived by two sons, Alex and Roger, and two daughters, Magda and Karen, from her first marriage, and eight grandchildren.

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