Penwell Turner Funeral Home - Shelby, Ohio

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 or by leaving a comment on Rita’s obituary on the funeral home’s Facebook page,


Memories & Condolence

  1. Brenda Siegelman says:

    I loved Rita , she was an inspiration to me ,full of kindness and knowledge, I learned so much from her via my sister and brother in law , Jo-Ann and Rick Walsh .
    She was always kind and a joy to be around . My heart goes out to the whole family and Rita’s many friends . We were all lucky to have Rita in our lives . I know my life is better for having known her.

  2. Steve Oster says:

    So sorry for all of your losses. Rita volunteered much of her life to causes that she believed in and gave selflessly . She always greeted people with a smile on her face and loved her family very much. Prayers to all of you.

  3. Joni Young says:

    Rita was a gem. One of a kind. They dont make many like her! She loved her famiky. She was very unselfish with her time and talents. She also was a great friend to my mom, Donna Hicks and I was blessed to have met her through my mom. A smile and a hugger she was. I too will remeber every phone call ended with God Bless You. A woman of great faith. Now her room is ready in heaven. To Dave Nita and Regina whom I’ve met and all the rest of Walsh family you were blessed. I have lots of fun errand trips and visits to remeber her by. Wish I could attend services but we just were back in Ohio end of July. I will be thinking and praying for all. Deepest sympathy sent your way. God Bless Joni and Jim Young Myrtle Beach South Carolina

  4. Holly Korbas says:

    Sorry to read of Rita’s passing. I knew she was a woman of great faith but I am amazed at all she accomplished in her life! What a life well lived and a wonderful role model to all who knew her. She will be missed…

  5. Maryanne Quirk says:

    Aunt Rita was my Godmother. My mother was her younger sister, so I remember many happy occasions when the sisters could not stop laughing. Through the years, she gave me many gifts, but one I will always remember was a special birthday cake, with a doll in the center and the cake being the doll’s dress. We had many conversations in the last few years, which always ended with a “God Bless You”.

  6. Edna Karnes says:

    We were so sorry to hear that Rita has passed away. She was a sweetheart and a dear neighbor. We will miss her. Pray that you are blessed with many precious memories in the days to come.

  7. Kevin Baird says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I know it must be tough after losing Nora not long ago. Praying for the Peace that passes all understanding that can only be given by the Father.

  8. Gary and Shirley Burrer says:

    We want wish your family our deepest sympathy!
    Rita was a wonderful neighbor and a sweet person.
    She will greatly missed.

  9. Ann Imhoff says:

    So very sorry to hear of Rita’s passing. She was always one i thought would be here forever❤️ Years ago when I was voted to be the President of Altar Rosary she always was there to help me thru the tough parts❤️
    She will be missed but I know was welcomed into Heaven with open arms

  10. Natalie Stout says:

    Was so honored to share great grandchildren with this most special lady. Rita was a blessing to all who knew her. May she rest in peace.

  11. Fr. NIck Cunningham says:

    So sorry to hear of Rita’s passing. She was a great woman faith and lived it every day. Know that you are all in my prayers. I am sure that God has already welcomed her home

  12. Jason Viers says:

    I remember going to stay with Grandma Walsh for a couple days as a teenager in the 90s, and visiting Kingwood Center with her. It was the first time I was old enough to really appreciate how much work she put in there and how proud she was of it (justifiably so).

    She always gave her all in all her volunteer efforts.

  13. Chuck and Diana Stout Stout says:

    So very sad to hear of Rita’s passing. On the occasions where our families could get together, I always felt Rita’s friendly and kind demeanor that was so easily expressed through a warm smile. Dave and Nita, Diana and I want to express our deepest sympathies to you and the entire Walsh family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless

  14. Sue Clingan says:

    I knew Rita through Oak Hill Cottage I picked her up and worked her there. Rita was a wonderful person and it was a joy to know her. My condolences

  15. WALLACE TOWARD says:

    So sorry for your loss of a great lady. Words cannot describe how much Kathi and I admire not only Rita, but your entire family. She will be greatly missed by legions of people. Please have comfort is this is not the end , but only the beginning of a new life for her. I am sure the Angles are rejoicing with her arrival.I Christian love. Wally and Kathi Toward

  16. Danny Walsh says:

    Our condolences to the Walsh family for your losses. We will miss the hand made Christmas cards and I’ll never forget the huge water fight at the Shelby house way back when. So much fun! We miss you, Rita.Aloha!

  17. Barbara Teti says:

    Aunt Rita and I shared the family name of Barbara. My two favorite memories of her.are; when I would send her homemade Happy May Day cards with real flowers taped on them from my home in Fl. she always could name them !

    . The other happened several years ago, but is still fresh in my mind & brings a big smile One evening in Bennington while Aunt Rita was visiting, we had a party out front and when the music played The Pee Wee Herman song
    Aunt Rita got up and started dancing to it ,we all burst out laughing and were surprised she knew how to do it, It was memorable !

  18. Allen Hiler says:

    my sympathy to all of the Walsh family. May God bless Rita and all her loved ones. Rita was the matriarch of the Red Bird Ln. neighborhood. We were all blessed to have known her and her giving ways.

  19. Don says:

    Dave and family, what an accomplished mother. Our prayers for all. Peace be with you.

  20. JOANNE HELFER says:

    I have only fond memories of my Aunt Rita. We loved when the family came to visit and we came to visit with them. Lots of fun.
    When I was about 6 or 7, she made my twin and I doll cakes, and we have a picture of standing behind them in Shelby Ohio.
    We had lots of fun when the 3 fairy god-mothers came to visit us in California. I think they came out twice and we so looked forward to it.
    I have no doubt that Aunt Rita is at peace now and is probably having lots of fun in the afterlife with her 2 sisters and all of their spouses.
    While we will miss her dearly, she did have a good life and all of her children were loving and supportive. No more struggling. She was a “tough Tretter” though and did live a long,happy life.

  21. David Lloyd says:

    My condolences to all. I lived just up the street from the Walshes in York, PA. In the summers of 1971 and 1972, I was probably at the house every day making mischief and ridiculing the world at large with my best friend Maury. Mrs. Walsh always had a smile and a kind word for me. If not a snack. That meant more than I probably could understand at the time. As long as I have remembering in me I will remember her as one of the better people on the planet.

  22. Claudia Musialowski & family says:

    Aunt Rita will be truly missed!
    Loved her smile and love for life!
    I’m sure her & her sisters are having a celebration singing Ein Prosit and dancing to New York New York!
    Wish we could have traveled to the funeral for the party popper send off!

  23. Joanne says:

    I forgot to put in . On one of her trips to
    California, I took them to Hearst Castle
    and were traveling from Monterey down the
    Pacific coast Big Sir. Highway 1 is only 2
    Lanes ; one in each direction with lots of harsh curves on high elevations. I had to keep up with traffic and Aunt Rita kept yelling “Joanne you are
    Going to kill us.” Needless to say our guardian angels were working full time
    And we made it fine. We
    Came back another route! But they talked
    About it for a while after and we had a good time

  24. Barbara Eakins says:

    Sincere sympathy to Rita’s entire family. I did not know Rita well and that is my loss. She attended an exercise class that I did, and I am sure I read about her in the paper. My husband, Jim, remembers Rita shopping at Great Scot when he was manager there. He said she was always very nice and had a great smile. I can only marvel at the things Rita accomplished in her life. She certainly had a caring and compassionate heart and the energy to do all that she did. Like another said, there aren’t many like her. Her life was a role model for all. I stand in amazement of her life.
    Sincerely, Barbara Eakins

  25. Diane Roll says:

    I will never forget my Rita. She was a friend who was like family. She was a big part of my life when I lived in Shelby. We did much together. I know how much she loved her family. My heart and prayers go out to all of you.

  26. Nita Walsh says:

    Thankyou to all the comforting words and shared memories of Rita. She will surely be missed & Our Family is so Grateful for your love and the stories shared that are new to us and with us forever as she is in our Hearts!

  27. Chris and Kathy Hogue says:

    Chris and I were sorry to hear of the loss of your mom. Your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.
    With sympathy,
    Chris and Kathy Hogue

  28. Beth(Young) Terman says:

    So sorry for your kids. There is no cause that Rita wasn’t involved in. She was a lovely women and will be missed. Gold bless her.

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