Rita Mary Harper, 87, passed away February 19, 2014 at her home with family. Born May 17, 1926, Rita was the eldest daughter of Gladys Matzinger Baumann and Louis Peter Baumann. After graduating as valedictorian from Incarnate Word Academy in 1943, she attended college at Rice University where she studied Chemistry. Graduating from Rice in 1947, Rita began a career as a Paint Chemist at Napko Corporation. A woman ahead of her time, she was the first female president of the Houston Society of Coatings Technology in 1974 and the only woman on the Napko bowling team. She worked hard and she played hard.
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Rita was very active and involved in her community. She attended and volunteered at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, was a member of the Garden Villas Garden Club and a committee member of the annual fund raising event for the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Salutes Fiesta Patrias. Competitive Ballroom Dancing was her favorite activity. She not only danced, but also designed and made her own costumes, which were donated to the Houston High School of Performing Arts and are being used today. It also goes without saying her granddaughters had the best dress-up clothes. Ever. Her last competition was in 1992 but she continued to dance and showcased her tango skills on her 80th birthday. Rita was a dog lover. A few of her favorite pups are Kelly, an Irish setter and Miracle and Jackson, both miniature long-hair dachshunds. Everyone in the neighborhood knew her because she was always out walking her dogs. They gave her such joy and friendship. Rita lived in Houston, Texas her entire life with the exception of 1 year in South Bend, Indiana during her paint chemist career and the last 6 months of her life in Charlotte, NC close to her son and family. She was excited to see the seasons and snow, but home was always Houston. She is a true Texan. She is survived by her son, Michael Louis Harper and wife Roberta (Bert) Harper; Granddaughter, Jennifer Lee Thrasher and husband Aaron Thrasher; sisters Barbara Ann Baumann Varnum, CeCe Bauman King, Marsha Baumann Pierrel, and brother, Louis John Baumann. She is predeceased by granddaughter Morgan Nicole Harper; brother-in-law Stephen Pierrel; Brother Michael Baumann; and sister-in-law Mary Baumann. Rita wanted everyone to know how much she appreciated all your prayers, thoughts, calls, letters, cards and gifts. Rita was intelligent, caring and lived life to the fullest.
Visitation will be held 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Sunday, February 23, 2014 with a Rosary to be recited at 7:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 6723 Whitefriars Drive, Houston, Texas. The Celebration of Life Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:00 a.m., Monday, February 24, 2014 also at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Celebrated by Rev. Robert Matzinger. Rite of Committal will follow at Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery. Memorials may be made to Hugaroo, Inc. http://www.hugaroo.org 716 Barington Place, Matthews, NC 28105, which provides a new stuffed animal to every child who has been admitted with a diagnosis of cancer, a life-threatening illness or other traumatic condition; or may be made to St Jude's Children's Research Hospital www.stjude.org/donate
Published in Houston Chronicle on Feb. 23, 2014