Rita Carolyn Ward, 87, of Lincoln, NE, formerly of North Aurora, IL, Aurora, IL and Chicago, IL, passed away January 22, 2019 Lincoln, NE.
Rita was born in Chicago, IL, December 2, 1931, the daughter of Daniel R. and Esther E (nee Dooley) Ward, who were originally from Joliet, IL.
Rita attended St. Angela Grammar School and Siena High School, both in Chicago. She began her career at Zenith Radio Corporation’s Hearing Aid Division in September of 1949. Rita was President of the Zenith Radio Corporation’s Women’s Club. After 17 years at Zenith, she retired, and with her widowed Mother, traveled extensively. In September of 1970, she became Manager of the Oak Park, IL, office of Bankers Life of Iowa Insurance Company. When that office moved to Elgin, IL in 1974, she again retired until August of 1976, when she became Secretary at Our Lady of Grace School in Chicago. Rita left that position in 1978, and moved to Aurora, IL with her two aunts. In 2004, Rita moved to Lincoln, NE to live with her nephew Patrick Ward and his family.
Rita was President of Our Lady of Fatima Sodality of St. Angela’s Church, Chicago, IL for several years. In September of 1951, Rita organized a Mission Club for Father Leo Joerger, SVD – a Divine Word Missionary in Papua New Guinea. During the 25 years that Rita and her Mission Club members were together, they raised money through Card Parties, Raffles, etc., to build several schools in Papua New Guinea, as well as St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kainantu, Papua New Guinea, which was dedicated on December 8, 1971 by the late Most Rev. John E. Cohill, SVD, who was the Bishop of Goroka, Papua New Guinea.
In 1967, Rita founded the Dominican Auxiliary, an organization which financially aided the Dominical Sisters of Springfield, Illinois. During its 22 years of existence, over $128,000 was raised through Card Parties, Raffles and Direct Mailings.
As a result of Rita’s work for Father Leo Joerger, and his Missions in Papua New Guinea, she was invited to go to Rome in November, 1994, and had the privilege of attending Mass in the late Blessed John Paul II’s private Chapel. After Mass the Holy Father visited with each of the 28 people who attended his Mass. Needless to say, Rita felt it was an honor and privilege to be able to hold the Holy Father’s hand and visit with him personally – something she was very proud of.
Rita was a member of St. Mary Church, Denton, NE; former member of Blessed Sacrament Church, North Aurora, IL; member of St Mary’s Altar Society, Denton, NE; a professed member
of the Dominican Laity since January, 1956; a Promoter for the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal since 1978; founder of the Springfield, IL Dominican Auxiliary; member of the Pink Sisters Auxiliary, Lincoln, NE; member of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society; and member of the LaSalle County, Illinois Genealogy Guild.
Rita is survived by 12 nieces and nephews – Mary Kathleen Ward, of Lee’s Summit, MO; James F. (Nancy) Lundy, of Larkspur, CO; Daniel M. (Gloria) of Elkorn, NE, Thomas J. (Mary) of Omaha, NE, Frances A. (Bruce) Buck, of Little Rock, AR, Michael P (Cathy) of Lincoln, NE, Debra A (Joseph) Jordan of Papillion, NE, Patrick M (Cathy) of Lincoln, NE, William G. (Karen) of Lee’s Summit, MO, Teresa M (Michael) Wheeler of Ocala, FL, Karen L. (Patrick) Lawrence of Omaha, NE, and Julie R. (Rick) Waymire of Omaha, NE. She is also survived by 48 grand nieces and nephews, and 24 plus great grand nieces and nephews, as well as many cousins and friends.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents, her brother and his wife, John D. and Beverly J. Ward, Sr., and her nephew, John D. Ward, Jr.
She will be remembered for her wit and keen sense of humor.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 am on Saturday, January 26, 2019, at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Denton with Monsignor Mark Huber officiating.
Rosary will be at 10:00 am on Saturday at the church.
Visitation will be on Friday from 12 noon to 8 pm, with family receiving friends from 5 pm to 7 pm, at Butherus Maser and Love funeral home, 4040 A St, Lincoln.
Burial will be at St Patrick’s Catholic Cemetery in Ransom, Illinois on February 9, 2019.
The Solon-Telford Funeral Home is in charge of the local arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, Masses would be appreciated, or Memorials to the Dominican Sisters, 1237 W Monroe Street, Springfield, IL 62704, or the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters), 1040 S. Cotner Blvd., Lincoln, NE 68510
Online condolences may be left for the family a www.solontelford.com