Nearly a year on from a tragic loss, a Border real estate agent is recovering but will never forget her colleague and friend.
Ray White Wodonga principal Fran Wernert's sudden death on January 16, 2021, shocked everyone who knew her, especially her business partner Narelle Robinson.
The pair both began their property careers at Ray White in 2001 and, after various industry moves, opened their agency in 2016.
"We'd worked every day together and all our decisions were made together, I feel like I still can't believe it," Ms Robinson told The Border Mail ahead of Sunday's sad anniversary.
"There's been so much to redirect and learn."
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Now the sole owner, Ms Robinson at first wondered how she could keep running the business without her dear friend.
"Because Fran had been in property management for 20 years, a lot of people knew her and respected her," she said.
"She was the one we all went to with any property management issues because she knew it back to front."
Ms Robinson said sharing similar values helped make their partnership a success.
"We were like sisters and we thought very much alike," she said.
Ray White Victoria and Tasmania chief executive Stephen Dullens said the Wodonga team had worked hard to overcome the past year's many challenges.
"in fact, Ray White Wodonga achieved their personal best month on four separate occasions during 2021," he said.
"Narelle's leadership has been exceptional.
"While we continue to miss Fran deeply, we could not be more proud of all that Narelle and the Ray White Wodonga team have achieved."
Ms Robinson also praised the nine-member Wodonga agency for their efforts, adding, "it's a family, not just a job".
"I think with the great staff we have and keeping Fran's memory in place as well, we'll continue to strive to be one of the best in Wodonga," she said.
And the year's experiences have highlighted some important messages.
"None of us know what's going to happen tomorrow, none of us know what's going to happen today," Ms Robinson said.
"So we just have to live life and keep those that we love safe and those that aren't here in our memory."
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