Maria Agatha Franziska Gobertina von Trapp - the last of the von Trapp children whose flight from Nazi-occupied Austria with their parents was dramatised in the film The Sound of Music and who went on to teach in Papua New Guinea - has died aged 99 at her home in Vermont in the United States. In this earlier account on the E-Course website, Mary Mennis reflects on her memories of Maria.
I FIRST met Maria, step-daughter of Baroness Maria von Trapp, in 1962-63 in Rabaul while she was doing the fourth E-Course at Malaguna. It was over on the other side of the town and I only had a bicycle to get around, but we often met at the Church on Sundays where Fr Francke said Mass.
The E-Course was a six month long teacher-training course designed to train people to teach in primary schools in rural areas. The Administration sought people with something of a missionary spirit who would be willing to live in native material houses in villages. Maria threw herself into the course, especially the musical side with Fred Ebbeck as music teacher.
Of course, Maria was already a gifted musician and singer trained with her family group the Trapp Family Singers on which The Sound of Music was based. At that stage it was a Broadway Musical which had run since 1959. The family was already quite famous but Maria was self-effacing and called herself Maria Trapp not Maria Von Trapp. She was very charismatic and her face lit up brightly when she smiled.