Noosa says goodbye to Ann Rickard
WITH Ann Rickard's passing, an era has ended in Noosa.
For more than 30 years Ann's hysterical columns, witty anecdotes, personable profiles and views on life graced the pages of Noosa News and past publications including The Entertainer and Noosa Magazine.
The bigger world knew Ann as an author of six books and a travel writer recognised with prestigious awards. In 2017, she was honoured as APN's Feature Writer of the Year.
Besides that, Ann and husband Geoff ran yearly tours to France.
Ann was formidable, complex, loving and a ridiculously talented person. I know because I have worked side by side with Ann for more than 25 years.
On a daily basis I witnessed her tremendous work ethic, her kindness, her brashness and, more than anything, her brilliant, upbeat, offbeat and hilarious take on life.
The serious side of Ann came through when she talked about the great love of her life, husband Geoff, equally her three children, Steven, Jessica and Dallas, their partners and over the last decade the birth of her much-loved grandchildren.
Serious, too, was her love for Noosa, Noosa News and Noosa people. Ann lived and breathed Noosa - since the 1990s Ann celebrated with the best of them in Hastings St and beyond and she brought Noosa's unique world of personalities, businesses and events into the lives of every Noosa News reader.
In the days of snail mail, readers' letters were piled high on Ann's desk and she loved receiving them, often sharing the contents with me. Her readers seemed to connect with her simple, joyful and casual style.
But the truth is, it's not easy to write like that, indeed it takes insight and natural flair and that's what Ann had - in bucket loads.
Ann edited the lifestyle section of the paper and her own culinary skills preference for fine dining and good champagne meant she was the perfect restaurant reviewer - and perfect for a town with much of its reputation built upon a unique dining scene.
Ann's appreciation of the good life was balanced by her appreciation of Noosa's natural beauty - I recall her beautiful descriptions of the blossoming red poinciana trees in Tewantin, the Everglades and Noosa River's marvellous mirroring qualities that made you feel like you were travelling through a liquid sky. Yet it seemed to me that a family boating trip up the river meant as much to Ann as touring the soaring Alps of Switzerland or visiting the Louvre in Paris.
Ann loved art too, she attended many openings to support local artists and when something really took her fancy she purchased it.
Ann always made herself available to speak at art openings or any service club that asked her. Indeed, she was a polished public speaker. Her book launches at various places, including Berardos, were a treat. We were all held captive when Ann, cool as a cucumber with mike in hand, cruised the stage and entertained with stories of her great adventures.
But above all else Ann was a wordsmith, she could twist, turn and paint words into vivid, clever and very funny descriptions.
But it was her propensity for honesty, her ability to make fun of herself, that let us find a bit of ourselves in her. Ann wrote about being a wife, a parent a grandparent, about sagging bodies, about Botox, about wearing a two-piece bathing suit at 70, about the importance of little black dresses, good manners and bad taste - she shared all of that and so much more with grace and a big smile.
During the seven years of Noosa's de-amalgamation battle, Peter Gardiner, myself and Ann held the Noosa News fort. It was a fraught time with many challenges but my memories are of Ann who constantly kept our heads above water with her good spirits, loyalty and love of Noosa.
Noosa News journalist Peter Gardiner remembers meeting Ann in the early 1990s when they were working at the Noosa Citizen newspaper.
"There was a grumpy boss at the time who tried to ban laughter in the office, largely because of Ann's personality,” he said.
"Her laughter and love of life used to bounce off the walls.
"Later the editorial team of the Noosa News, editor Gail Forrer, Ann and I would share quite a few misadventures together, not the least the ill-fated camel races on Melbourne Club Day out in a rain-soaked and flooded Doonan paddock, complete with overflowing toilets, watery wine, cranky camels and mud-splattered frocks.
"Ann always made me and many others laugh with her amazing take on life in Noosa and beyond and there is no greater gift. She also took one of my favourite photos of my young son, Ben, and I in the Noosa News office, which I still cherish.
"Ann was a Noosa one-off and sadly we won't see her like again.”
But the last words must indeed come from my friend Ann: in one of those quirky turns of fate, last Friday when long-time Sunshine Coast Daily editorial assistant Roz Hoolihan went to look through Ann's columns, the first one she found was this dated August 17, 2015, when Ann wrote about death - her own specifically.
"My funeral music of choice is Elvis (Are You Lonesome Tonight), Frank Sinatra (My Way) and Shirley Bassey (Big Spender). These songs hold a special place in my heart as I have performed them often at two in the morning on the top of my staircase after a night of champagne- induced rollicking (my friends have appreciated this muchly).”
And in classic Ann style: "I have told my husband to harvest as many organs from me as anyone deems worthwhile, apart from the liver. I wouldn't wish that on anyone.”