Wife of late retail director Stanley Roche dies

The death has been announced of Heide Roche, the wife of the late Stanley Roche, who was a director of one of Ireland’s best-known retail dynasties.

Wife of late retail director Stanley Roche dies

Ms Roche, who supported and championed several local charities, died peacefully at home in Belgooly, near Kinsale, Co Cork, on Thursday, surrounded by her family.

She is survived by her children, Bronwen (Braun-Lynch), Owen Braun, Morgan and Ondine, her sister Ello Braun, her step-child Nicholas, and several grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

Her remains lay in repose at Gabriel and O’Donovan’s funeral home in Kinsale last night and her body is being donated to medical science. Her family has asked that donations in lieu of flowers be made to the Irish Cancer Society or Marymount Hospice.

Like her late husband, Stanley, who was director of the Roches Stores retail empire, Ms Roche did extensive charitable work quietly and discreetly.

She was a key supporter of local charities and organisations, including the Guardwell Homes retirement and sheltered housing complex, Kinsale Community Hospitality, and Kinsale Youth Support Services. She was also a founding member of the Kinsale Gourmet Festival.

The couple guarded their privacy intensely after they were embroiled in an extraordinary love affair that scandalised the nation in the early 1970s.

As head of one of Cork’s great merchant prince families, Stanley, who was 43 in 1970, had recently separated from his wife, Cary, when he fell in love and began a discreet affair with her friend, a then young decorating consultant, Heide Braun.

When Heide’s husband, German businessman Werner Braun, learned of the affair through an anonymous Christmas card, he launched a court case, suing Mr Roche in the High Court in Dublin under the arcane law of criminal conversation.

The subsequent court case in June 1972 heard details of the love affair, how Stanley had bought her a “sporty car”, as well as intimate details of their lives, and of the violence and infidelity towards Heide from her German husband.

During the case, Mr Roche had to deny suggestions from Mr Braun’s legal team that he could be viewed as a “pimp” and Heide refused to apologise to her husband.

Court reports show how the judge instructed the jury that a wife was regarded as a chattel “just as a thoroughbred mare or cow” and that Mr Braun was entitled to compensation for his loss.

He was awarded £12,000 — a substantial sum for the time.

Afterwards, Heide and Stanley, who was always described as an “unassuming man” devoted to his business, shunned publicity and lived out their lives together in Belgooly.

The Roches Stores business was sold to Debenhams in 2006 for an estimated €29m but the Roche family retained control of a substantial property portfolio which included sites in Cork, Limerick, and Dublin.

The couple was said by close friends to have been “inseparable” and “very much in love”.

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