Rita Barbara Walsh
In the early morning hours of Saturday, August 15, 2020, Rita Barbara Walsh passed away peacefully in her sleep just twelve days after her 93rd birthday at her home in Shelby, Ohio.
Rita was the middle of three very close sisters born in Bennington, New York. Her fancy older sister, Mary, was born in 1926 in a hospital, but Rita was born at the family homestead in rural Wyoming County in Bennington, NY, on August 3, 1927. Her younger sister, Ann, was also born at the homestead in 1929. Their parents were William Tretter and Barbara Tretter (Ziewers) who bought the homestead from Rita’s Ziewers grandparents.
Rita went to school up the hill by the firehouse at Bennington Elementary, a two-room schoolhouse. She finished 8 years of schooling in 7 years, taking 7th & 8th grades together by passing the Regents test requirements a year early. She then took the bus to Attica High School from 1941 to 1944 where she graduated Salutatorian. She got to make the opening speech for graduation of the class of 1944. She then went on to work in Buffalo and later in Attica, NY.
Rita was married to Richard D. Walsh, Sr. She knew Rich from Attica High School in Attica, NY, but they did not start dating until meeting again a couple years later. They married in Bennington on April 7, 1951, and lived in Attica, but moved to Shelby, OH in 1954. They moved to Monroe, CT, briefly in 1968 then to York, PA in 1970. They returned to Shelby for good in June 1975.
Along the way they expanded their family with 6 children: Richard, Jr., born in 1952, Maury in 1953, Diane in 1956, Dave in 1958, Regina in 1959 and Nora in 1967. Rita is grandmother to 14 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
At Most Pure Heart of Mary parish, she was a lector, communion distributor, pastoral staff, and greeter. And she was not afraid to sit up front during services. She was a member of the MPHM Altar and Rosary Society and was named their Woman of the Year.
Rita was a graduate of the Ministry Formation Class of 1996. After that, Rita started the Ministry of Praise at Shelby’s Most Pure Heart of Mary, helping housebound elders keep more involved with the parish.
She founded the Daughters of Isabel “Cake Ladies” who baked and delivered cakes to young men of Abraxas monthly for over 20 years.
Rita was a Regent of the Daughters of Isabel 5 times over the years. She also won the Jess Rath award.
She was a volunteer at the Kingwood Center for over 35 years, helping with flower arranging, giving tours, supporting flower shows, and being a hostess for many events. She was also an officer of the Shelby Garden Club.
At the Mansfield Reformatory, Rita worked at the gift shop and helped with tours, including scaring people on the early Halloween tours. She also volunteered at Oak Hill Cottage for over a decade.
Noted for her outstanding homemade Christmas greetings, she created a demand for her cards starting in 1969 and continuing until 2019. She performed her civic duty as an election poll worker for many years.
Rita participated in the Women’s Health Initiative research study starting in 1997, traveling to Columbus to provide ongoing health data and participating in tests and drug trials to help improve information about women’s health, particularly for elderly women.
Rita was preceded in death by her husband, Richard, her sisters, Mary and Ann, and her daughter, Nora. She is survived by her children, Richard D. (Jo-Ann) Walsh of Birmingham, AL, Maury Walsh (Beth Lenoble) of Dublin, OH, Diane Bortner of York, PA, Dave (Nita) of Shelby, and Regina (Rob) Viers of Cortland, OH, Don Ludwig of Plain City, OH, plus her 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren spread across the eastern United States.
She was a woman of faith, family, service, and love.
Family and friends are welcome on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 from 4-7 pm at the Penwell Turner Funeral Home, 168 West Main Street, Shelby, where a rosary will be recited at 7 pm. Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 10:30 am at Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 29 West Street, Shelby, with Fr. Chris Mileski officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church and left in care of the funeral home.
Due to the current COVID-19 circumstances, both the family and the funeral home wish that everyone remains safe. Therefore, we ask that visitors be mindful of current restrictions, wear masks if able, and pay respects appropriately and promptly, without linger.
Appropriate ways to express sympathy for those unable to attend may be done by leaving an online condolence at www.PenwellTurner.com or by leaving a comment on Rita’s obituary on the funeral home’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/PenwellFuneral.