From Satu

Dear Andrey, Denny and Gigi,

We heard from Dominic Alldis of the tragic news of Maria’s passing away and wanted to express our deepest condolences to all of you. We remember fondly a dinner at your house many many many years ago (I believe Kate Berardo and her partner were also there).

I am greatly indebted to Maria as she helped me when I first stared my work as an independent consultant, first as a sounding board for how to set up a cross-cultural coaching practice and later as the person who introduced me into Exetor and the world of leadership development, which I have grown to love. She was such a warm and kind woman, and yet when hard things had to be said, she said them – always leaving the dignity of those at the receiving her thoughts intact – an admirable quality.

She was also a great supporter of the work Pete did and the bookhe wrote, and I know he held her in high regard.

You are all in our thoughts and wish you strength and support at this time in your lives.

With warmest wishes,
Satu and Pete

From John H

Dear Andrey, Denny and Gigi,

I learned today with profound sadness and shock of Maria’s passing. I know you must be devastated and wondering how you have been so unfairly deprived of a wonderful, vibrant, inspirational wife and mother. Words cannot provide comfort to console you however, I hope you will take heart in the knowledge that the love you have for each other and your memories of Maria will sustain you in the weeks and months ahead.

My first recollection of Andrey and Maria dates back to the early days of the Richmond MBA Program and how much you both added to the intellectual and cultural richness of the experience. Not only were you incredibly hard working, but also very well connected to sources for interesting Bulgarian wines. Perhaps my fondest memory of you both was the night Maria effortlessly chopped the top off a champagne bottle (sabraged) while Andrey’s attempt resulted in the first champagne shower at the Richmond School of Business. I guess this baptism of bubbles was an appropriate harbinger to the many successes and achievements Maria crammed into her remarkable life. I enjoyed numerous debates with Maria on the topic of cross-cultural communication, in particular, as we weaved our way through the Program’s International Marketing and Strategy courses. What a proud moment for Richmond to witness Maria’s subsequent success with her cross-cultural counselling work and to realise her dream of having her own consultancy.

I was delighted to engage Maria and Candy Beery to deliver several cultural awareness courses at the Aga Khan Institute for the Study of Muslim Cultures. Their input had a very significant impact on our post-graduate students who were less-worldly wise than they thought. As I moved away from private education I lost touch with Maria, but this did not diminish the fondness and indeed respect I have for her and for you Andrey. The determination, fortitude and willpower you demonstrated to establish yourselves in the UK with new careers and to raise your family is amazing.

Maria’s death is a huge loss to you and to the countless number of students, business executives and colleagues who have benefited from her gifted contribution to the world. We are all poorer for her passing.

If I can borrow an Irish saying that sums up my sentiment…

Death leaves a heartache

no one can heal;

Love leaves a memory no

one can steal.

God Bless you all.

John Hough

From David M.

Hello all,

I have been thinking about Maria since first hearing of her death last week. I had a chance to be outside and to soak in the sunshine, the river water that I was floating on and the beauty of the local mountains, all sources of strength for me. It helped me process the information about Maria, so I thought I would add my thoughts to the mix.

I think I am not ready for this time of life; it just has crept up on me to find that my colleagues and friends are starting to have major health problems and are starting to die-much too young. Maria was such a warm and interesting person. I loved her wit and her fierce commitment to her values. She was so excited to launch her now business that I enjoyed hearing her talk about the possibilities. She was eager and hungry to get busy and well on her way when she first found out about the cancer.

Over the years I enjoyed learning more about her personal history growing up in such a different system and part of the world. When I first met her I recognized her accent as Bulgarian because I had grown up across the street from a Bulgarian family in Vermont and was familiar with the accent. That really surprised her!

I have had a picture of Zeke and Maria on my desk since they were both ill. I miss them both.

She has such a great family and was so proud of her daughters. I feel so badly for her family to lose her at such a young age.

Anyway, take care all and it is sure a great reminder to me to live each moment with meaning and commitment to get the most out of life. I will carry fond memories of Maria forward. Take good care all.


David H. Marvin

From Ann

Dear Andrey, Denny and Gigi,
I was shocked to hear about Maria’s untimely demise. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. And may the Almightly grant you all the strength to bear the irreparable loss.
We have not met earlier, but I wanted to reach out to you in your moment of loss. Maria was an amazing mentor to me. We had met a couple of times for WPP training programs. She remained in touch and would constantly enquire about how I am doing. During the second training programme (which happened two years after the first), she chose to be my mentor for the scheduled one on one feedback sessions. At that point in time i was at the crossroads of my career – I was planning to set up on my own after working in the corporate world for 16 long years. So adept was she as a trainer that the first thing she noticed was that I seemed preoccupied (compared to the first time when she had met me). She was the first person I spoke to about my entrepreneurship plans, outside of my family and friends circle.
I will always remember her encouraging words, her never say die spirit and the twinkle in her eyes. She often spoke fondly of her wonderful husband and two lovely daughters. She took so much pride in her family. She was that rare combination of a thorough professional and a wonderful human being who had a profound impact on whomever she met.
I will certainly miss her. And I know that she is out there somewhere, a twinkling star in the night sky, watching over and guiding her near and dear ones. I will always cherish the times that we spent together, and treasure her words of advice that I will carry with me all through my life.
May her soul rest in eternal peace. My prayers are with you all.
Ann Mathew

So many flowers 

Thank you all for the gorgeous tributes  which have filled the house – and for the love, respect and support they represent.

The cats pretending to be tigers in a jungle of bouquets.  
Late at night, they give off a magical smell.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, in mourning.

The monster bouquet which has taken over the kitchen table is in bloom.

Thank you to Deirdre

First, for supporting both Maria and Andrey to take their MBAs and through the transition from communism and a new regime.

Second, for remaining a close family friend over the last two decades.

Third, for all the support and guidance over the last difficult 10 days. You have completely understood what the main questions to answer for the arrangements have been, mum’s style and elegance and have been invaluable support. Also, for the delicious cakes!

Love from,

Andrey, Denny and Gigi