Rita Walters Williams was transported to heaven in the arms of angels on July 13, 2021. She is surely enjoying a big Christmas party and if she wants Jesus will feast on homemade apple cake and boiled pastry cream. Hopefully God will get her to sit down after days of baking and wrapping – something we have never been able to accomplish.
Her eyes must sparkle as she celebrates with her loved ones who have traveled before her. She’s probably sitting with her parents, Laura and Earnest Walters, and the precious Iva and Jack LaPrad. Her sister-in-law, Edith Hobbs, may be pushing her to eat more, while her brother, Garland Walters, shows off carpentry creations. Her hard-working brother-in-law, Woody, probably asks for a few seconds while Nikki licks the crumbs. Her grandparents, Bessie and Marcus Hill can be a source of heated conversation as her uncles exclaim, “Oh, mother”! Her husband, Robert Williams, lights the table with his pure, sweet smile, while her first husband, Richard Viar, plays with the drummer boys. His friends at GE and ITT recall strike lines and subjects beyond our comprehension, but they are more united than friends now. They are brothers and sisters in a paradise beyond our comprehension.
Rita was called home after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. She came out victorious because she didn’t let cancer take away the things most precious to her. The disease brought new depth to her social interactions, her flowers were brighter, and sunny days were never wasted. As she neared the finish line, the expectation of meeting her Lord face to face brought energy to her soul.
The struggles were nothing new to Rita. In 1966, amid limited opportunities, she bought a jazzy Chevy Nova and began a 30-year career with ITT and GE. She was determined that children; Kathy (Scott) Shrewsbury, Rick (Tina) Viar and Teresa (Chris) Sowers; would have a life of opportunity, security and love. She blew those goals out of the water every morning with a hot breakfast on a beautifully set table, and every night it was the same. The best part was still her magic iced tea and sitting around the table together. After her children left the nest, she and Bob joined the crowd at K&W, where they enjoyed seeing friends and avoiding dirty dishes. She had washed it all a life.
Rita appreciated beauty, even as a young girl dressing and sneaking to a gorgeous wedding at Fort Lewis Baptist Church. As an adult, she loved Sundays at Airlee Court Baptist Church and prepared impeccable outfits the night before. During worship, his concentration was sometimes interrupted by small hands slapping each other on the back, but “the gaze” took care of that, and everyone was rewarded with a tasty dinner of roast beef. Thanks to her dedication, the lives of her children were forever changed on these pews.
The school years began with a massive box of 15 Sears Roebuck outfits. Afterwards, the children saw Mr. Young at Hofheimers for new shoes and school supplies were purchased at Woolco. That first morning, she must have felt very accomplished. She was. Rita was savvy with a dollar and knew the importance of saving and investing; However, she never restrained herself from spoiling her grandchildren with clothes, toys, lessons, cars, jewelry and other “necessary” things for all grandchildren, including Teresa (Ted ) Cuddy, Jeremy Viar, Mary (David) Lugar, Nathan Viar, Barret Sowers (Ginni Baker) and Kathlyn Sowers (Christopher Allen). Each generation has grown up with Justin Lugar, Landon Wheeler, Declan and Larkin Viar.
Rita was fortunate to have a bonus family, which she both admired and loved. She cherished the dancing eyes of Randy (Bobbie) Williams and the sweet soul of Jeff Williams. Grandchildren, Crystal Williams and Jamie (Jameson) Gurley, along with Matt (TJ), Clay (Linda) and Brittany Williams brought pure joy. The precious great-great ones included Ryan, Zac and Nic Chittum; Canaan and Carter Williams; Lexie Marie Williams; Nevaeh and Jaxson; and the adorable “Gurley Guys”. Marie Oracko held a special place in Rita’s heart.
Rita liked to play in the dirt and talk about trees, flowers and vegetables. She abhorred pesticides and preferred to have a dandelion garden rather than endanger wildlife. She was a modern day Snow White, feeding the neighborhood animals, and was known to let the neighborhood cat in on cold days. The month before his departure, groups of cardinals were appropriately standing guard in the trees outside his sunny window.
Rita could prepare everything on her sewing machine and even make beautiful dresses by hand. She often burned midnight oil with special projects. Most recently, she burned the midnight oil on her computer. She was tech-savvy, becoming the family researcher and leaving detailed notebooks filled with instructions on how to do everything better! She possessed a wisdom that went far beyond books.
Although Rita’s illness limited visits, she remembered it daily. She longed to visit her sister-in-law, Opal Walters, and her nephews, Mark Walters and Jack Hobbs; as well as cherished aunts, Alma Hill and Sylvia Lemon. Her best friend, Bonnie Nicholson, was always the source of endless laughter.
She loved her many cousins ââand friends very much. One of those friends is Karla Bower, who has faithfully encouraged Rita throughout her journey. Even though she sometimes knew the hardships, Rita looked a lot like a lucky redhead. As proof, the best neighbors and friends on the whole planet, Gene and Tracy Brady, lived right next to her.
Although she yearned to visit many faces, Rita understood the power of God’s call, knowing that she would see them in “an even better place.” Before being taken away, Rita made two requests – first, she said she couldn’t wait to see everyone, but please take our time to arrive. Second, “be happy, happy, happy”! Life is good and it is not over yet.
Rita’s family would like to especially thank Dr. Christine Mellon and the staff of the 10th Floor Palliative Care Unit of the Carilion Roanoke Memorial, who provided comfort and dignity beyond words. The gratitude of the family is forever over. Thanks for seeing that Rita never walked alone.
Posted by Roanoke Times on December 19, 2021.