LIFE OF MUSIC
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.