Mary Ann Colonna-Neff
August 26, 2010
Mary Ann Colonna-Neff was born to Geraldine and George W. Cragar on a farm in Perry, Ark., on March 23, 1940. She passed away on Aug. 23, 2010, in Carbondale, Colo.
Mary Ann grew up in Heavener, Okla., where she was a noted pianist from an early age, serving as the pianist and organist at the First Baptist Church in high school.
She attended Oklahoma Baptist University, where she earned a BFA in piano performance. Mary Ann then earned her MFA in piano pedagogy from the University of North Texas.
Turning her love for music into a career, Mary Ann gave piano lessons to hundreds of students. When she lived in Seabrook, Texas, with her late husband Richard “Dick” Colonna, she co-owned the Bay Area Music Center with her friend Irma Gilmer and hosted annual piano camps at both Rice University and the University of Houston.
When her husband’s job took them to Canberra, Australia, Mary Ann made sure her beloved Steinway piano also made the journey. Their next adventure took them to Las Cruces, N.M., where they were living at the time of his unexpected death in 1994.
Mary Ann then moved to their vacation home in Basalt, Colo., which put her in close proximity to the Aspen Music Festival and School. She eventually settled in Carbondale, Colo., where she enjoyed helping with the music program at the Community United Methodist Church.
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In 2001, Mary Ann and her dear friend Margaret were attending a performance at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, when they heard a delightful accent behind them.
The voice belonged to Werner Neff, a music enthusiast from Switzerland, who ended up sitting with them during the performance. Mary Ann and “Wernie,” as she referred to him, hit it off, and they were married in July 2002.
The Steinway made another trans-Atlantic journey to Zurich, Switzerland. Mary Ann and Wernie’s life together was filled with music, travel and good friends. When Mary Ann fell ill, they decided to move her back to Colorado. She moved into Heritage Park Care Center in Carbondale, where she enjoyed her therapeutic massages from Molly and visits from her friends in the area. Upon Wernie’s retirement, he and the Steinway also made the journey to Colorado.
Mary Ann is survived by husband Werner Neff of Carbondale; sister and brother-in-law Thelma and Bill Bratten of Midwest City, Okla.; niece Lee Ann Bratten of Oklahoma City and countless dear friends. Mary Ann was preceded in death by her parents, Geraldine and George Cragar, her son, George Colonna, and her husband, Richard Colonna.
Services will be held at 2 p.m. at the Carbondale Community United Methodist Church followed by internment at Fairview Cemetery in Basalt, Colo.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation for Alzheimer’s/Lewy Body Dementia research or to the Department of Music at Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Okla.