You are viewing the print version of this article. Click here to view the full version.
Columbia Missourian

Rita Hess Bunn, 80, loved music, horses

By Dani Kass
March 16, 2013 | 6:02 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Rita Hess Bunn was an accomplished musician who played around the world and studied with a number of noted pianists.

Mrs. Bunn died Friday, March 15, 2013, at age 80.

Mrs. Bunn was born in Decatur, Ill., to Harold and Lavina (Watkins) Hess on July 9, 1932. She went on to study music at Millikin University in her hometown, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1954.

After graduation, she studied with several noted pianists including Betty Travis of Decatur, Ill.; Hans Anwander of the State Conservatory of Music in Cologne, Germany; Dalies Frantz of Austin, Texas and Vladimir Horowitz, the Russian American virtuoso pianist.

While studying in Germany, Mrs. Bunn met her husband, Ronald Bunn, and they were married March 29, 1955.

Mrs. Bunn continued studying music when she returned to the United States and earned a Masters of Music from the University of Texas at Austin in 1958. She served as a member and chapter president of Sigma Alpha Iota, the national music society.

In 1959 she gave birth to her first of three daughters.

As Mrs. Bunn moved around the country for her husband’s job, she taught piano and performed, including a stint as second violist with the Baton Rouge, La., orchestra and as a performer with the Houston Civic Symphony.

In 1968 Mrs. Bunn realized her childhood dream of buying a horse and soon bought more. When she and her husband moved to Columbia in 1980, they bought some acreage and established an Arabian horse farm.

The couple spent years breeding Arabian horses and showing them at regional and national horse shows.

Mrs. Bunn is survived by her husband Ronald Bunn; her three daughters, Robin Popp (Adam) of Houston, Katharine Bunn (Mike Cusack) and Lisabeth Franks (Ed), both of Columbia; and six grandchildren: Dakota Turrentine, Mihka Turrentine, and Garrett Popp, all of Houston, and Ryan Franks, Kayla Franks and Kyle Franks all of Columbia.  

Services will be held on Tuesday, March 19, at 11 a.m., at Memorial Funeral Home, 217 Business Loop 70 E.

Online tributes may be left at

Supervising editor Emilie Stigliani.