Peter Rickett: Father, Husband, Musician & Teacher
Peter Rickett passed away on June 16th, 2014 near his home in Peoria, Arizona. He was 91. An accomplished symphony conductor, Rickett retired to the Phoenix area from South Carolina in 1994 as a way to continue his musical career part-time – and to play much more golf. He was assistant conductor under James Yestadt with the Sun Cities Symphony and played double bass with them for ten years. He was also conductor of the Sun Cities String Orchestra.
Born to American parents in Paris, France, where his father was working, Peter Rickett grew up in New York City. He received his early musical training from his father, a professional musician and conductor of the Blue Hill Troupe, a Gilbert and Sullivan company in new York City. His mother, Joanna Roos, was a stage actress who also appeared in movies and television. He graduated from the Julliard School of Music in 1946.
He met his wife Betsie, a native of Staten Island, NY, over a bridge table in 1950 in New York City. It was “love at six diamonds.” They both knew immediately they would be spending their lives together.
Rickett was with the New Orleans, Dallas and Chattanooga Symphonies, both as a bass player and conductor, before taking the helm of the fledgling Greenville Symphony in 1956. He was the conductor and musical director for 34 years, building the orchestra into a professional, top-notch orchestra – one of the best in the region. Upon his retirement in 1990 he was bestowed the honor of Conductor Emeritus for establishing a solid legacy of musical excellence. See an excerpt from GSO 60th Anniversary Publication 2007 here.
He performed as a bassist with many of the orchestras in the Southeast and taught bass at Furman University. He spent one summer with the Atlanta Theater Under the Stars and has guest conducted the Columbia, Charlotte, Asheville, Charleston (SC & WV) Symphonies and the East Texas Symphony. He was the music director of the Greenville Savoyards, and retired after thirteen years as the Conductor of the Hendersonville Symphony (in North Carolina).
Furman University, where he was part-time faculty, awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1986. He was awarded the Order of the Palmetto by South Carolina Governor Richard Riley in 1987, and in 1988 Governor Carroll Campbell presented him with the Elizabeth O’neill Verner Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. He is listed in the first edition of Marquis “Who’s who in Entertainment” in 1989.
Mr. Rickett is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Betsie. his daughters Deborah Horvay and Christine Alley, and son David Rickett. Also two grandchildren, Kevin and Greg Horvay, and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son Steve Rickett. The family asks that memorial gifts be sent in his memory to The Greenville Symphony Endowment Fund. (Mailing address: Greenville Symphony Endowment Fund — online donations here. Mention or notate “PETER RICKETT” on all donations.(Mailing address: 200 South Main Street, Greenville, SC 29601) Alternatively donations can be made to the Hospice of Arizona Foundation — online donations here. (Mailing address: Hospice of Arizona, 19820 N. 7th Avenue, #130, Phoenix, AZ 85027, (602) 678-1313. Mention or notate “PETER RICKETT” on all donations.
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