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Life Story / Obituary
An inspiration to all who knew her, Rita Pierce lived on her own terms. And through the last of her days, her courage and determination was a guiding force as she continued to selflessly care about those around her. Rita loved life, and the family she treasured. With ways all her own, her spunky personality coupled with her giving heart was just one of the many things that made Rita so easy to love. Gone but never to be forgotten are the ways in which she enlightened the lives of all who knew and loved her.
By 1972, the decade of the 1970s ushered in new innovations, technology, and social advancement. Watergate was considered to be the largest political scandal of modern times while the introduction of the space shuttle program made way for new space exploration. At a time when big bells and denim suits were all the rage, the Equal Rights Amendment was passed creating equality of the sexes. It was a welcome relief when the last U.S. ground troops were evacuated from Vietnam, yet for Michael and Nancy (Montgomery) Newton of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the upcoming birth of a new child in their lives was cause for great anticipation. On October 20, 1972, they welcomed the birth of their second daughter, Rita into their hearts.
Rita joined her older sister, Lisa in their family home in Vicksburg where Rita was raised. Her father supported their household with his work at Simpson Paper, and later, JRS. Following Rita’s birth, her mother remained at home with her girls, making a good home for their family. Rita enjoyed a childhood typical of her generation filled with the friendships of many and countless slumber parties, bike riding and memorable times with her family. She attended the area schools, and during high school she was a proud member of the band. It was also during high school in 1988 when Rita’s parents divorced. She went on to graduate from Vicksburg High School in 1990, the same year her father married his second wife, Carol.
In her earlier years, Rita met a young man and they soon developed a relationship. From this relationship she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Jennifer. Although her relationship did not last, Rita was young and in time, her father and stepmother, Carol adopted and raised Jennifer. As difficult as the circumstances were at times, Rita held Jennifer close to her heart. When Carol passed away in 2009, Rita’s father felt it was time to tell Jennifer that Rita was actually her birth mother. Over time, Rita and her daughter, Jennifer slowly and lovingly built a solid foundation for their new relationship.
Following high school, Rita worked at several jobs before landing a position with Stewart Sutherland. She was a hard worker and really loved her work as the shipping manager there. Through her 19 years working there, Rita gained valuable experience and truly loved those she worked with. This was especially true when she met Todd Pierce through her work. A handsome young man who captured Rita’s heart, the feeling was mutual. They dated for a time and on December 11, 1998 they were happily married in Kalamazoo. Rita took on Todd’s children, Anna, Ella, and Madison, and loved them as her own. They made their home in Vicksburg where they eventually welcomed the births of their two children, Leah and Eliot. Through the years that followed, numerous memories were made as a family during the holidays enjoying their time together.
Rita was her own woman and with her spunky, adventurous spirit, she absolutely loved riding her Harley. She bought it while Todd was in Germany for two weeks for work when she and her dad went shopping for motorcycles together. Even though he was a little surprised upon his return home, Todd went out and purchased his own Harley a short time later. Rita and Todd loved riding together, taking in day trips whenever they could. Together they enjoyed a little travel, and most recently they shared a great time taking in the warmth of the Cancun, Mexico sun, all while creating cherished memories.
Typical of Rita’s ever giving and selfless demeanor, for several years she served as a coach for Girls on the Run. An organization dedicated to creating self awareness and confidence by nurturing young girls to pursue their dreams in a fun, experience-based program through running, Rita was beloved by all she encountered through her efforts.
When it came to free time, Rita loved going to Texas Roadhouse for a great steak or she was just as content at grabbing a pizza. Rita’s children were her life. She gladly participated and supported them in each of their endeavors, and her pride in them was evident. She especially loved sitting around a good bonfire with those she held most dear. She loved connecting with people, and most often through social media and her 369 Facebook friends! Rita was always an animal lover and her two canine companions, Willy and Fletcher were never far from her side. She was an avid Tiger’s baseball fan, and a staunch supporter of her alma mater, the Vicksburg High School marching band – go Bulldogs! Even though Rita had a wonderful sense of humor, she could be a little reserved, but then she could also be quite a spitfire when mad!
Rita was a woman who placed the needs of others before her own. She was a wonderful friend, and her family brought her the greatest joy. In them she found much happiness and unconditional love. Even after being diagnosed with cancer this past May, Rita’s positive outlook and determination was an inspiration to all. A beautiful soul inside and out, Rita lived with no regrets for the wonderful life she was given. Although deeply missed, her legacy lives on in the lives of those she touched with her positive influence.
Rita Pierce, age 43 of Vicksburg passed away on Thursday, November 26, 2015 at her home. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, December 2, 5:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Vicksburg; 409 S. Main St. (269 649-1697). Rita’s family includes her husband of 16 years, Todd; her children: Jennifer (Richard), Leah, Eliot, Anna, Ella, Madison; grandchild, Jace; her sister, Lisa; her parents Michael (Debra) Newton and Nancy Peterson and grandmother, Alice. She was preceded in death by her her stepmother Carol Newton, her stepfather Eric Peterson and her grandparents, Raymond Newton, Lee and Anita Montgomery. Memorial donations can be made to a charity of your choice. To share a favorite memory or photo of Rita and to sign her online guest book, please visit www.lifestorynet.com.