Emma Rae O'Neal Petrus
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A Mass of Christian Burial for Emma Rae O'Neal Petrus will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 29, 2013, in St. Rita Catholic Church, with Rev. Craig Scott officiating. Interment will be in Greenwood Memorial Park, Pineville under the direction of John Kramer & Son.
Visitation will be held from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. Monday and from 8:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. Tuesday at John Kramer & Son. Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the funeral home.
Emma Rae returned to God's arms peacefully on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at home with her loving husband at her side, after a long illness. Born on October 8, 1937, from a young age she showed a great gift for and love of music playing the piano and singing. Throughout her life, she shared those gifts both as a performer and teacher.
She attended LSU and Louisiana College and was awarded a Music Education degree in 1960. Her teaching career began at the junior high level and she eventually moved to Holy Savior Menard High School where she built an outstanding choral music program from scratch. In her 18 years at Menard, she also began producing and directing musical theater productions that drew large and enthusiastic audiences. Her greatest reward was to see the development of her students as they blossomed through the teamwork, dedication, and effort they put into the shows.
As much joy as she had teaching regular students, she was greatly enriched by teaching music therapy to special needs children at John Eskew Training Center.
As a performer, she sang as a guest soloist with the Rapides Symphony, performed leading roles in numerous Matinee Musical Club operas, and starred in many musicals at the Little Theater. At the theater she wore many hats including stage director, musical director, board member and president.
After retiring from the educational field she started two small businesses, Petrus Lawn and Shrub and Custom Christmas, which she ran until illness forced her retirement.
She was preceded in death by her parents, William Rogers Warner and RaeBelle Warner.
Those left to cherish her memory include her husband of 30 years, Thomas Petrus, her son William Mitchell O'Neal and his wife Rebecca, her granddaughter, Michelle O'Neal Butler and her husband Kirby ,two grandsons, Will and Andrew O'Neal, and EmmaRae's sister, Rae Belle Warner Adams and her husband Kenneth and three nephews.
Pallberers will be Will O'Neal, Andrew O'Neal, Jimmy Touchet, John Rino, Joel Petrus, and Kirby Butler
The family requests that memorials be made in EmmaRae's name to Holy Savior Menard High School, 4603 Coliseum Blvd. Alexandria, LA 71303 for the benefit of a performing arts scholarship in her name.
A special thanks goes to Dr Howard Wold and his staff, Journey Hospice, and to her sitter Mrs. Janice Dorsey, who lovingly cared for her.
Published in The Town Talk on Jan. 27, 2013