LIFE OF MU­SIC

The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - FRONT PAGE -

Is­abella Ann Pear­son Born: Au­gust 8, 1923, at Mar­lee, New South Wales Died: July 22, 2018, at New Nor­folk

THE need to have been born in New Nor­folk to be con­sid­ered a lo­cal did not ap­ply to Belle Pear­son, the Rev­erend Celia Hooker said when con­duct­ing Mrs Pear­son’s fu­neral last month.

“She en­hanced our town so much over the years, reach­ing out to chil­dren and youth for so many years and qui­etly giv­ing them the en­cour­age­ment they needed … they re­sponded with so much re­spect and later grat­i­tude,” Mrs Hooker said.

De­liv­er­ing the eu­logy at St Matthew’s Angli­can Church on July 27, Mrs Pear­son’s younger daugh­ter Judy Vorster said her mother was not per­fect and could be dif­fi­cult like ev­ery­one else.

“But, for the most part, she chose her mo­ments and chose what was im­por­tant to her, and that was be­ing a wife, mother, grand­mother and great-grand­mother, as well as serv­ing the com­mu­nity,” Ms Vorster said.

“To her, chil­dren were im­por­tant … they were the fu­ture. They de­served hap­pi­ness and safety and nour­ish­ment and bright prospects, full of pos­si­bil­i­ties. And she wanted to give all of that to her chil­dren and through her teach­ing, the chil­dren of oth­ers.”

Mrs Pear­son grew up in north­ern New South Wales on a farm at Mar­lee. Her mother sent her to board with two spin­sters in or­der to at­tend Ta­ree High School and from them she learned how to play the pi­ano.

“As a child, when there was a coun­try ser­vice Mum was sent to play the pi­ano for church. She told us that she only knew how to play two hymns, Je­sus Loves Me and Je­sus Wants Me for a Sun­beam, but play­ing the ac­com­pa­ni­ment for these two hymns was the be­gin­ning of her long in­volve­ment with mu­sic, as a teacher, an ac­com­pa­nist, and a church or­gan­ist,” Ms Vorster said.

“Love of mu­sic shaped much of her life. She was in­volved with mu­sic and en­joyed it all her life. She taught mu­sic and singing in New Nor­folk schools and played the or­gan for New Nor­folk churches, re­gard­less of de­nom­i­na­tion.”

Love of mu­sic was what mo­ti­vated Mrs Pear­son to de­velop the Derwent Val­ley Con­cert Band with Lay­ton Hod­getts and Ross But­ler in 1993. Mrs Pear­son served as its ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer for many years, and in 2001 re­ceived the Cen­te­nary Medal in recog­ni­tion of her ser­vice to the band.

She was in­volved in many other as­pects of com­mu­nity work in­clud­ing 35 years as a mem­ber of the Red Cross. She helped to es­tab­lish the Sun­day school at the Methodist Church and ran the church choir.

She was the or­gan­ist at mul­ti­ple churches in New Nor­folk and fur­ther up the Derwent Val­ley. She was also a mem­ber of the Sorop­ti­mists and a vol­un­tary worker at Co­rum­bene.

In the 1950s Mrs Pear­son met young Ger­man woman An­nemarie Zim­mer, who had come to live in New Nor­folk, with her daugh­ter Sabine, to teach at the Blair St Kin­der­garten. The Zim­mers be­came close friends of the Pear­sons and Mrs Zim­mer sent a writ­ten trib­ute which was read out at the fu­neral.

Mrs Pear­son was recog­nised by the Aus­tralia Day Coun­cil in 1998 and awarded the Cit­i­zen of the Year award for the Derwent Val­ley. She was also was recog­nised by Norske Skog and the Derwent Val­ley

Gazette in their Com­mu­nity Lead­ers pro­gram.

“Mum be­lieved in ed­u­ca­tion. Be­ing well ed­u­cated was one of the great­est achieve­ments one could ac­com­plish. Fin­ish­ing your ed­u­ca­tion was to be ad­mired; it was im­por­tant and some­thing of which you could be proud,” Ms Vorster said.

“What she re­ally be­lieved was that chil­dren de­served ev­ery­thing they needed to be pre­pared for a good life. And what she meant was that ev­ery child de­served a high­qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion.”

Mrs Pear­son en­joyed a va­ri­ety of roles in her ca­reer as an ed­u­ca­tor, from a pri­mary school teacher to guid­ance of­fi­cer and high school vice-prin­ci­pal.

She be­gan her teach­ing ca­reer in New South Wales but mar­ried Alan Pear­son shortly af­ter and they moved to New Nor­folk in 1946. She was given the Grade 3 class at New Nor­folk Pri­mary School, with 69 chil­dren in it.

She had to re­sign from the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment af­ter giv­ing birth to older daugh­ter Ann (Gourlay) but was in­vited to re­turn in 1962 as a guid­ance of­fi­cer for the Derwent Val­ley. She was later ap­pointed vice-prin­ci­pal at New Nor­folk High School un­til re­tir­ing in 1983.

“Our parents met at univer­sity, still teenagers. They had a long, won­der­ful and lov­ing re­la­tion­ship. Dad al­ways toasted ‘to Belle’s beau­ti­ful blue eyes’,” Ms Vorster said.

“As a mother, she was firm but lov­ing. She set high stan­dards for us and we were ex­pected to live up to them. If we were go­ing some­where she dressed beau­ti­fully and ex­pected us to do like­wise. She main­tained these stan­dards for her­self for all of her life.

“She en­cour­aged us all; dad, her chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great­grand­chil­dren to do our best at all times and some of her proud­est mo­ments were with our suc­cesses as well as many of Dad’s no­table achieve­ments.”

Fit­tingly, Mrs Pear­son’s fu­neral fea­tured mu­si­cal ac­com­pa­ni­ment by the Derwent Val­ley Con­cert Band’s brass quin­tet and mem­bers of the St Matthew’s Church Choir. Lay­ton Hod­getts played the church or­gan.

Mrs Pear­son is sur­vived by daugh­ters Ann and Judy, six grand­chil­dren and 11 great­grand­chil­dren.

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