Rita Louise (Zouhar) Wieringa passed away on September 24, 2022. Rita was her family’s Christmas gift when she was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on December 21, 1935, to Louis and Eleanor Zouhar, the children of Bohemian immigrants. The family lived on a farm in Solon, Ohio, where Rita learned the importance of hard work and thoughtful study. Those who knew her would not be surprised to learn that Rita was a dedicated Girl Scout and regularly won awards in school for her citizenship, punctuality, and penmanship. This was also where she fell in love with sports, playing on both the volleyball and basketball teams, and possibly where she first caught the travel bug, when, as captain of her school’s safety patrol, she was selected to travel from the small town of Garfield Heights, Ohio, to see the sites of Washington, D.C., with a group of students from other schools across the country.
Around the time she graduated from high school, the family moved to California, and Rita attended San Diego State University, where she earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Physical Education. Rita taught PE and coached basketball and other sports for many years, always setting an example worthy of emulation as a most professional young lady with much integrity, high moral character, and a well-developed sense of humor. As a young teacher, Rita spent seven weeks and visited 14 countries in Europe with a group of PE teachers and attended the 1960 Olympics while in Rome – further inspiring her passion for seeing new places and meeting new people.
Back at home, Rita did her best to see as many of the wild and scenic and historic places that she could. She bought an RV and began working seasonally at Yellowstone National Park, splitting her time between there and southern California. Rita loved being on the road with her RV, and she met many lifelong friends while working in Yellowstone and staying at points in between. After retiring, Rita reluctantly gave up the gypsy lifestyle but settled in Livingston - a place with a rich history, kind neighbors, and awe-inspiring beauty that she called home for nearly 20 years.
Although her new home had no wheels, Rita rarely stayed put, taking tours and road trips to visit friends from New England to Alaska and Texas to California, and tracking her journeys on a US map she kept on the wall. She stayed active her whole life and loved both watching and participating in sports of all kinds. When she sat still, Rita enjoyed reading, and systematically devoured all the works of her favorite authors.
Rita had a deep-rooted love of people and a strong desire to help others. She had a big and generous heart and understood the importance of giving back to her community. Rita dedicated many hours to volunteering for organizations such as the Park County Senior Center, Meals on Wheels, the Humane Society and many others through the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. Remember Rita by volunteering your time or donating to one of these places.
More than anything, Rita would want to be remembered as Clare Harner described in her poem, “Immortality”
Do not stand
By my grave, and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep –
I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle, autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there; I did not die.
Godspeed, Rita. We’ll see you down the road…
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has been entrusted with arrangements.