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Rita Amanda ZWAR nèe Becker

  • Born: 12th December 1907
  • Parents:
    Gotthilf Benjamin RICHARD and EMMA Cecilia BECKER
  • Lived:
    Appila farm, Laura farm, Caltowie farm, and Laura, all in South Australia
  • Died: 10th January 1988 in Laura Hospital aged 80 years
  • Buried:

Detailed biography

> Click here to go to Rita’s Photo Gallery

Rita Amanda Becker

Rita was the first of seven children born to Emma and Richard Becker. She was the only child born on the Appila farm. Born on the family farm on 12th December 1907 and then baptised in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church which they could see about two or three kilometres from their home on 29th December of the same year.


Baptism Certificate for Rita Zwar

Rita’s auntie Elsa Zanker was a godparent as Rita was born on her birthday. Her other godparents were Alfred Becker and auntie Lydia Saegenschnitter.

Early Story

Rita’s parents told her about one incident that happened when Rita was about two years old. The Beckers kept a saucer of milk on the veranda for their pet cats. One day her mother went out and found Rita on her fours lapping the milk together with a snake! [Rita to K Z.] Rita wasn’t harmed, but I don’t know what happened to the snake.

The Willows Farm

About this time Richard Becker bought “The Willows” farm near Laura. The Advertiser reported on 1st October 1909


Becker Land Purchase – ‘The Willows’

The Willows property is still in the hands[in 2013] of descendants of Rita.


A brother Eric arrived three days after Rita’s third birthday. Her sister Frieda arrived when she was five.

Lutheran Day School

Rita began school at the Day School next to the Pine Creek Lutheran Church in 1914. From their former farm the Beckers could see the church from their home, but now it was a ten kilometre journey. We don’t know how Rita travelled to school in her first years as she was the first to go and there were no other children nearby she could have gone with.


Pine Creek School Band

In the 1916 school band Rita is the girl on the far right – in front of the drummer. The lad in the centre of the back row – 6th from each end – is Edgar Zwar – her future husband. Rita has named each person in this photo. You can find it in the section: ‘Rita Becker Photo Album’.


School Closed and State School Opened

In 1917 the South Australian government closed all the Lutheran Schools, including the Pine Creek school. In July of the same year the Government opened it as a State School with Jack Stevens as the teacher.


Pine Creek State School. Rita is 3rd from left on front seated row. Eric is bottom left – on ground.

{missing page}](School list by Rita Zwar nee Becker) Rita attended this school and left us with a photo from the teacher, Jack Stevens, and all the students – which she named, but it doesn’t say which year. Her younger brother Eric is also in the photo. There is another photo of the State School children, with Rita second left in the back row and Eric is on the other end of the back row? The teacher is Miss Thomas, but we don’t have the exact year. If it is 1920 then Frieda would be on this photo – if not, it was taken in is 1919.]


Pine Creek State School? Rita 2nd from left in back row.

There is no record of Rita attending the Laura school. She attended confirmation lessons at Pine Creek and was confirmed in 1921 when she was nearly 14 years of age, the normal age for confirmation. One record shows Rita completed her schooling in March 1921. She then began attending confirmation classes. Rita had particularly enjoyed the art and craft classes and would have loved to develop her skills in this area but didn’t have the opportunity. At some point Rita did take organ lessons, maybe from Mrs McHugh in Laura who taught her young sister Linda in later years [*Rex Becker].





Rita, probably in confirmation dress 1921



Confirmation Certificate for Rita Becker

Rita was confirmed in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church on 20th November 1921 by Pastor Adolph Ortenburger, several weeks before her 14th birthday. The text reads

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Life Home on the Farm



Boating in Pine Creek at Beckers; l to r: Emma Becker, Annie Geier, Frieda Becker, Rita Becker, and Melvin Becker in front.

The children grew up on the bank of the Pine Creek and soon learnt to swim.They would go yabbying, or rowing in the long stretches of water that were normal in the creek in those times. On the farm there were baby animals to care for, cows to milk, horses to feed, fowls to feed and eggs to collect. Rita helped to care for the young siblings as they arrived. There were clothes to wash and hang out on the lines to dry, and then iron. She learnt to mend clothes, to sew and knit. Her mother developed a vast vegetable garden. Her father had developed a large orchard that ran down to the main road.





Rita Becker in St St Kilda

In the early twenties Rita went on a holiday to Victoria. She enjoyed a stay with the Bucklow family in Melbourne, her great uncle John and auntie Agnes and their little son John who made a number of visits to the “The Willows” in South Australia over the years. With Rita they visited Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges, Rita also enjoyed the St Kilda beach, and they had a day out and took the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff.


Queenscliffe [photo by Rita Becker]


Queenscliffe Beach [Rita Becker photo]

Rita also visited the Gus and Otto Zanker family cousins on their farms near Jeparit in Victoria.


Otto Zanker family: L to R: Ruby, Elsie, Otto, a daughter, Mrs Otto Snr, Otto snr.

Zanker Family

The Becker family were closely involved with the Zanker families in their social life. There would often be Zanker relatives visiting, staying for a few days at The Willows, or going for a picnic in a forest, or at the beach at Port Germein.

Youth Group


Rita in 1920’s

The Pine Creek Church had an active youth group that met on Sunday afternoons every fortnight, and these included a variety of functions that included Bible Studies, outings, birthday celebrations and concerts. On the other Sundays they had choir practice.

Sister Lorna

When Rita was 17 a baby sister arrived prematurely and died after two months. Two years later a brother arrived in Rex, and Rex remembers his oldest sister Rita as the one who cared for him like his mother.

Edgar Zwar

In the late Twenties Rita was attracted to another member of the Pine Creek youth group in Edgar Zwar. The families were quite close. By road they lived about 5 kilometres apart, but much closer ‘as the crow flies’. Their fathers would go to auctions together to buy timber and metal to work on in their workshops. One year at the Jamestown Show Edgar’s father mentioned to Rita’s mother Emma Becker that Rita and Edgar seemed to make a fine couple, and Emma replied, “But Rita is so young!”


Rita Becker and Edgar Zwar were married on 2nd October 1930 in the Pine Creek Lutheran Church near Appila when Rita was 22 years old and Edgar was 27.


Edgar Zwar and Rita Becker 2nd Oct 1930

Pastor Ern Stolz married them. It was his first marriage in the Appila parish and they became close friends.


Pastor and Mrs Ortenburger


The Greeting

Pastor Adolf Ortenburger who had been their only pastor and who had baptised and confirmed both of them had returned recently to Germany. He sent them a photo and a special greeting.
The reception and wedding breakfast were held at the ‘Willows’, the Becker home. Photos were taken on the front lawn. Edgar was the youngest and the last to be married in his family. Rita was the eldest in her family and it would be another 10 years before there would be another wedding in the Becker family.