Tag Archives: Arthur Gilkey

Vlado and Sheila

When looking up the name “Vlado Fabry” on the internet, the only thing I find, other than the details of the plane crash with Dag Hammarskjold, where he is called by his proper name, “Vladimir”, is a memoriam to Mary Sheila Dean Marshall(written by her son Chris Marshall) born in Argentina on July 18th, 1929, to British parents Austin and Ada Deane. It is also posted on the Rockville Consortium for Science website, where Sheila was founder and president . Here is the paragraph that made me laugh out loud:

“Sheila considered her time in New York to be some of the happiest days of her life. She roomed with her dearest friend, a gorgeous Czechoslovakian socialite named Desa Pavlu. The two of them must have left a trail of broken hearts throughout Manhattan. Sheila had a proposal of marriage from a young man named Arthur Gilkey . She declined, and shortly thereafter, he perished while ascending K2. Sheila was also courted by a chap named Vladimir “Vlado” Fabry. Vlado died with Dag Hammerskjold[sic] in The Congo[sic]. It seems that Vlado may have been connected with the CIA. Sheila said she could never see herself marrying Vlado because he had a “very round bottom.”

I was only a little annoyed that someone was using the words of one dead person to slag off another dead person, because it was just too funny to read about Vlado’s “very round bottom” on the internet. I would like to point out to Mr. Marshall, though, that his statement that “Vlado may have been connected with the CIA” is, as yet, an opinion; but Mr. Marshall’s father – Sheila’s husband – was a CIA operative from 1952-1967, and that’s a fact. But now that he’s got me wondering, I’ll be checking that out, too.

In a letter, sent from Vlado in New York to his father in Geneva, December 20, 1954, he says about Sheila:

“I decided I must look Sheila over a bit better. She seems to fit not only my bill but also that of maman; gaiety, naturalness, nine years younger than me, etc, — and at the same time poise, intelligence, dependability and brains; she is of mixed culture too, — part Argentinian, part English, part US. So I shall investigate. But nothing more, don’t worry!”

I’m going to try and avoid making untrue statements here. I’ll be writing things down as I make my discoveries, which means I’ll be learning as I go – and there is much to learn. And because I appreciate the discovery of Chris Marshall, and his mother, I want to share the letter of condolence I found that Sheila wrote to my mother-in-law, and to Mrs. Fabry, after Vlado’s death (Mr. Pavel Fabry, Vlado’s father, had died only a year before this tragic event, so I can only imagine the grief of the two women); dated October 26th, 1961, and sent c/o N.I.S.E.R., University College, Ibadan, Nigeria:

My Dear Olga and Mrs Fabry,

Ever since I heard the awful news I have been meaning to write to you, but what with getting Mike’s [Sheila’s husband] three children off to boarding school, packing up the house, leaving London on Oct. 1st and then straightening our stomachs out here, this is the first day that I feel like myself again. Your letter, Olga, arrived yesterday and I was very glad to have it but of course most upset at your obvious and quite natural distress.

All the time I was packing and sewing on name tapes and travelling down I had one thought at the back of my mind:–what can I say to the Fabrys? How can anything help? But there are things to be said and I’m sure that what I have to say will have been said by Vlado’s other friends but they bear repeating this once and even more times.

The first thing is that you of all people should have been spared this tragedy and Vlado was a man that the world and his friends needed. However, I have long ago found out and I’m sure you did before me, that it is useless to question Fate or God’s judgement or what you will call it. Admitting this, we are left only one consolation, that of remembering the pleasure that we derived from sharing part of Vlado’s life. He had great personality and made an impression on many lives. In his short life he managed to accomplish far more that many do in twice the time.

The second thing that immediately comes to mind is his great generosity of spirit. Surely, remembering this, and how sad it would make him to see you so desolate, you must for his sake continue, as much as you can, to show the Fabry spirit. How difficult this will be for you! For Olga it is not so much of a challenge as for Mrs. Fabry. Time helps the young and the young must help the older ones. And I am sure, knowing Olga, that she will have the courage, perhaps not quite yet, to pick up the pieces and build up again the remnants of a very fine family. We all need people like the Fabrys.

The third thing is that none of us who knew Vlado will forget him. He leaves behind him a memory of a warm hearted, generous and very good friend. His zest for life and its challenges was amazing and a source of great inspiration to us. He was a man very much driven by a sense of destiny and how well he fulfilled his role. His capacity was enormous and he never fell short of what was expected of him, although he often expressed disatisfaction at not having been able to do more.
My parents were most distressed at the bad news and have asked me to pass on their deepest sympathy to you both.
The enclosed are letters [I have not located these letters yet.-T] I received from time to time from Vlado. At the last minute I saved them from the consignment that we have sent down here. The photographs you asked for were packed before that but I shall get them out together with others I might have when our belongings arrive in about 3 weeks.

The news photograph [have not located this photo yet.-T] I was able to get by calling up the Daily Express just before I left. They were reluctant to let me have it as it is not only the last one of Vlado but also of Hammerskjold. They said it was for your own personal use. I asked if they had any other in which Vlado might have appeared but they said not.

Thank you for your good wishes – I’ll write about my affairs later.

Lots of love to you both and all prayers for your wellbeing.
From Sheila