Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience


Life Story Funeral Homes®
The exclusive providers of the Life Story Experience

Rita J. Spencer

January 8, 2024
Kalamazoo, MI




Rita J. Spencer, 97, of Kalamazoo, passed away peacefully on January 8, 2024. She was born January 15, 1926 in San Antonio, New Mexico to Emilio and Virginia (Baca) Gianero and grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. It was there that she met her husband, Fred, during his service in the U.S. Army, and she moved with him as a newlywed to the Kalamazoo area.

Rita was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother. Her marriage to Fred lasted for more than 75 years. Rita enjoyed her role as a homemaker, and her family relished her cooking and baking skills, especially feasts of New Mexican cuisine, fresh-baked pies and cookies, and elaborate holiday meals. She also had a passion for fashion and worked outside the home in women's retail for several years.

Rita was beloved by her family near and far. She is survived by her two daughters, Donna Martin of Kalamazoo and Pamela (Rhea) Binkley of Dalton, GA, as well as her three grandchildren, Erika (James) Martin of Washington, DC, Benjamin Martin of Kalamazoo, MI and Kelsey (Carlos) Morren of Atlanta, GA. She is also survived by her younger sister, Georgene (Gianero) Moore, of Melba, ID and her sister-in-law, Loa (Bumgarner) Gianero, of Marion, OH. Rita was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and two older siblings.

Rita was an avid golfer for decades and participated in many leagues throughout the Kalamazoo area, including the Golden Girls annual outings. She always enjoyed spending time in nature whether it was feeding and watching the birds, working in the yard, or walking the family's dogs. Rita was also a long-time active member of St. Ann Parish where she served as Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, attended weekly adoration, and assisted with funeral lunches.

The family will receive friends from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Monday, January 22, 2024 in the lobby of St. Ann Catholic Church in Augusta. A funeral mass will follow at 12:00 p.m. to celebrate Rita's life, and all are welcome to attend. Interment will be at Fort Custer National Cemetery for family only. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Centrica Care Navigators (previously Hospice of Southwest Michigan), or W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Arrangements by the Farley Estes Dowdle Funeral Home & Cremation Care, Richland Chapel. Personal messages for the family may be placed at