Sep 13th 1927 - Mar 8th 2012
Loving, compassionate, charming – with a wonderful sense of humor, Rita Redmond’s personality shone like a beacon – bright and dazzling for all to see. She loved to experience and appreciate the world around her. With education a top priority in her life, Rita went on to become a dedicated teacher who impacted thousands of young lives during her many years of teaching. With her kind and generous heart coupled with her vivacious spirit, Rita brought light and life to all those within her reach.
The decade of the “Roaring Twenties” was a fantastic period in our nation’s history, when the sounds of progress could be heard in every village and city across America. It was the birthplace of jazz, the golden age of industry and above all, a time of plenty. Rita entered this bustling world on September 13, 1927, in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan to Patrick “PJ” and Margaret (Byington) Redmond. She was the second youngest of five children with three older brothers and one younger sister. From her earliest days, Rita revealed a spirit that was full of love and joy; she was an endless source of happiness for her family. Although her father worked in real estate, he sang for all the funerals in the community and he would pull Rita out of grade school so she could play the organ. She had such a wonderful talent and music would always be a big part of her life.
Rita was a very bright young lady and excelled in school. She attended St. Joseph Catholic School through the 8th grade, and then earned a full scholarship to Nazareth High School, where she graduated in 1945. Once again, Rita received a full scholarship to Nazareth College, where she pursued her lifelong dream to be a teacher. With her degree in hand, Rita embarked on her career as a teacher in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. She started at Roosevelt Elementary but later retired from Woods Lake; she always taught either first or second grade. Rita’s love of teaching came naturally, and she was admired by her many students. For years to come, her sharp memory could recall every student she taught, and it wasn’t unusual to hear “hi Ms. Redmond” from one of her former students while out in the community.
Church was also an important part of Rita’s life. She was a devout and active member of the St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish, where she taught CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) since 1968. Rita also shared her lovely voice by singing in the choir, and was a member of Legion of Mary. Always looking for ways to help, she even put together the Parish newsletter called Parish Pride. Rita opened her heart and home, hosting many parties for her friends and family, including her annual St. Patrick’s Day party. She also had special masses said at her home and sponsored priests from other countries. Her strong Catholic faith was truly a hallmark of her life.
Rita’s life was filled with the wonderful simple things, like playing the piano and listening to classical music. She was a voracious reader of everything from fiction and religious books to novels suggested by her Book Club. A real card shark, Rita loved playing cards, particularly Bridge, Texas Hold’em and Hand and Foot. She often took her luck to the casinos, where she played Keno and those one-armed bandits. Rita made many trips to Las Vegas to do some “real” gambling! Always the adventurer, Rita was a world traveler, visiting Ireland, the Bahamas, and all over Europe. She had countless stories she loved to tell of her trips, and with a touch of her great sense of humor, she was sure to keep you in stitches. Rita poured so much love into her relationships with her nieces and nephews; she never failed to bring them back treasures from her adventures abroad.
Rita’s good spirit and smiling face served as testimony to the fact that she enjoyed every moment of her life. She was always very accepting and open minded of everyone, and found the good in every situation. With a twinkle of Irish in her eye, Rita lived, loved and treasured every blessed day. She retired from teaching after 39 years, but always missed it. Rita enjoyed good health for most of her life, but in later years, she began to have trouble with her legs. This was the start of her slow decline. Her mind stayed sharp and clear, but her body began to wane. Eventually, Rita moved to Wyndham Apartments, a retirement community, but has spent the last year and a half at Upjohn Nursing Home.
Rita was a very special lady who brightened and enriched the lives of everyone around her. She will be dearly missed.
Rita Redmond died on Thursday, March 8, 2012, at Upjohn Nursing Home in Kalamazoo, MI. Visitation was on Friday, March 9, from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo; 375-2900. Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, March 10, at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church with burial at Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents; brothers, Vincent, Richard, and Patrick; sister-in-laws Mary and Pauline; brother-in-law Richard Kloeckner; niece, Janet Kloeckner, and nephew, Thomas Redmond. Surviving is her sister, Mary Alice Kloeckner; nieces and nephews: Peggy (Kevin) Mullins, Mary (Mitch) Wehrly, Susan (Scott) Thelen, Bill (Kathy) Redmond and Jim Redmond; many great nieces and nephews and special cousins, Jean Klingel and Kitty (Jim) Hatridge. Memorial contributions may be directed to Borgess VNA Hospice or St. Joseph Catholic Church. Please visit Rita’s personal memory page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you may share a thought/memory and sign her online guest book.