Family was first for Rita Pratt
RITA Mary Smith was born on the 12th day of October 1932 in Dalby Hospital.
She was the first child for John Vincent and Beatrice Smith.
Her brother John was born in 1936 and her sister Moyà in 1940.
Her father was a dairy inspector with the DPI and, when the family moved to Murgon, they lived in Watt St.
Rita started her schooling at St Joseph's Convent in 1937 where she was a foundation student.
She excelled not only academically but also musically, and this is where her love of music developed.
On leaving school she was employed as an office clerk with the Murgon Shire Council.
By 1948, at the tender age of 16, Rita obtained the distinction of Associate in Music - Pianoforte from the Australian Music Examinations Board.
In 1950, Rita then received her Trinity College of Music London Associate in Pianoforte.
These two diplomas are a testament to her marvellous musical ability.
In the late '50s, Rita and her brother John formed a dance band called the Hi-Lites, which was very popular at many of the local social events.
In 1957, along came Earl Pratt and a relationship which was to last for the next 57 years. They were married in St Joseph's Church, Murgon, on May 14, 1960.
They built their new home in Harm St and moved in after they completed their six-week caravanning honeymoon.
Their first child, Paul, was born in 1965 and then Helen followed in 1970.
As the children did their schooling at St Joseph's Murgon and then St Mary's Kingaroy, Rita was heavily involved with both church and school activities in both parishes.
Rita over the years received many accolades and awards for her service to both the church and community.
These awards included an apostolic blessing from the Pope for 60 years' service as a church organist, an Australia Day cultural award in 1996 - just to mention a couple.
Who can forget when she played the piano for 24 hours' straight to raise money for the new St Joseph's Catholic hall.
Rita was an active member of the School P&F Association and the Catholic Women's League.
Family was first for Rita. To see her children marry, and have five grandchildren and one great-grandchild gave her never-ending joy.
She loved her holidays with the family, whether it was caravanning or enjoying the view from the unit at Kings Beach.
Illness nearly took her from us in 2003 but her determination and strength gave us another wonderful 14 years with her.
Rita was a loving wife, sister, aunty, dedicated mother, devoted grandmother and great-grandmother.
To all who were privileged to have known Rita, I am sure many things come to mind when we look back on her life.
She was one of the most talented pianists that we as a community have ever known.
She lived for music and her love of music was spread over decades from dance and jazz bands, church and school functions, eisteddfods and weddings. She brought joy and love into others' lives through her playing.
One of Rita's favourite musicians was Andre Rieu (we think she had more CDs than he actually released). He always said you make music to make people happy.
Her sense of humour and strong will kept everyone on their toes until the very end.
This was Rita Pratt.