Reta was born in 1898 in the family home on Cowper Street, Carrington. She was the youngest daughter of the successful Russian businessman and politician, Morris Light.
Reta Light was an amazing and beautiful woman; she spoke fluent French, was an accomplished musician and travelled frequently between Australia and Europe.
While travelling in France during the Second World War, Reta was captured by Nazi forces and sent to a concentration camp. Mercifully, Reta survived this horror and returned to Australia. Upon her return she invested her fortune into a range of investments and her own passions, including fur and opals.
Reta Light died in September 1989 at the age of 91. She had no children and had never married. Until her stroke in 1980, which left her unable to speak or walk, Reta was a passionate and talented woman who thrived on culture, music and art.
Reta Light remains the University Library’s greatest benefactor. Upon her death $1.5 million was donated for the purchasing of books, periodicals, microfilms and musical scores. Her legacy to the University and to the city of Newcastle remains as strong as ever, not only due to her surprising donation to the Library, but also through her family’s cultural contributions to an emerging city.