Anita Ricketts.
Anita Ricketts. Contributed

Tributes flow after 'pioneer' Gympie businesswoman dies

THE family and friends of much-loved Gympie businesswoman Anita Ricketts are remembering her as a "pioneer” following her death at the age of 79 last Thursday.

A pursuer of many passions over at least four decades at the forefront of the Gympie business scene, Anita began her journey alongside late husband Bob with the opening of The Jean Scene in the mid-1970s.

Anita took the lead in that venture while Bob took on a "behind the scenes” role as the couple raised their three children - Melanie, Steve and Kimberley.

Kimberley, Steve, Anita and Melanie (front) at Anita's 70th birthday party.
MUCH LOVED: The late Anita Ricketts (right) with children Kimberley (left), Steve and Melanie at Anita's 70th birthday party. Contributed

Steve recalled his mother's days with The Jean Scene as a kind of watershed moment for the region at the time.

"The Jean Scene was fairly iconic, it was the first fashion jean shop to hit the district,” he said.

"Prior to that jeans were just work jeans. The story goes that Mum was looking for a fashionable pair of jeans in town, and there weren't any available and so she filled the gap.

"That was something we all remember Mum being such a champion of, wherever there was a gap needed she was going to be that person.”

Bob and Anita Ricketts.
Bob and Anita Ricketts. Contributed

Following a short stint on the Gold Coast where Bob worked in real estate and Anita managed clothing shops, the family returned to the Gold City in the late '70s to begin a long stint as managers of The Five Ways in Mary St, a corner store-take away hybrid.

In about 1986 they became managers of the Shady Rest motel, before opening Cullie's Coffee Shop in Cullinane's Plaza.

Anita furthered her local legend status with a long stint as manager of Kitch N Things, which originally operated opposite the coffee shop before spending most of its time at Goldfields Plaza.

She used her time at Goldfields to express her passions for creativity and art, finding another avenue as the longest-standing president of the local Zodiac Players theatre group.

"While she was at Goldfields she was known for doing all the Christmas decorations, that's what people remember her for. She was very artistic,” Melanie recalled.

"That was her role with the Zodiac Players, apart from being the longest-standing president she was the art designer and set director.”

Melanie and Steve agreed their mother would perhaps be best remembered as a lover of her family and her community.

"The big thing for us was that Mum and Dad had a lovely love affair and they were always working together, they had their whole life together as a couple working and married with the three of us,” Melanie said.

"She always kept abreast of new and changing things, and she loved people, she was such a people person. She loved people, people loved her, she was always a very happy person and very kind to others.

"They saw Gympie as a wonderful place to raise children. Right from the start she felt welcomed and at home in Gympie.”

"I've got close to 200 comments on my Facebook page, and just about everyone had memories of her being so happy and so friendly, no matter who you were if you came into her shop she treated everyone the same,” Steve added.

All are invited to join Melanie, Steve, Kimberley and their families for a celebration of Anita's life at the Gympie Funeral Home from 10.30am tomorrow.

Anita's family ask for donations to Gympie Hospital's Palliative Care unit in lieu of flowers.