Phyllis Ragan, 88, a concert pianist who found her true calling as a piano teacher in Delaware County, died Dec. 3 of respiratory failure at the Sunrise Senior Living facility in Lafayette Hill.

Mrs. Ragan, the former Phyllis Wheeler, graduated from Upper Darby High School in 1942 and attended the Juilliard School in New York City.

In the mid-1940s, she became a concert pianist, winning acclaim. She placed at the piano auditions for the 1943 Eisteddfod, a competition in Wales, but decided not to compete. She also won the Musical Fund Society's national award in 1946 and again in 1953.

Mrs. Ragan performed as a soloist in recitals at the Barclay Hotel, Greek Hall at John Wanamaker, and Reyburn Plaza, and with the Lansdowne Symphony.

She served on the faculties of the Clarke and Brahms Conservatories in Philadelphia in the early 1950s, said her son, Jeff.

She married her husband, Howard, in 1952, and with the birth of her first son in 1954, Mrs. Ragan turned almost exclusively to teaching piano out of the family home on Woodland Avenue in Drexel Hill.

She taught from Monday through Saturday, from just past 3 p.m., when school let out, until 8 or 9.

"I can see her coming out of the studio with a light in her eye," her son recalled. "She just loved teaching."

Mrs. Ragan imbued in her students an appreciation for music, her son said, and many of her students pursued careers in music and the arts.

She took a personal interest in each student and carefully selected music books and pieces according to each one's ability and style.

In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. Ragan is survived by a brother.

A life celebration at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, will be followed by a 7 p.m. memorial service at Spencer T. Videon of Drexel Hill, 400 Shadeland Ave. Interment is private.

Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 215-854-2611 or bcook@phillynews.com.