Rita M. Ashley, 93, of Tonica passed away on June 11, 2021 at St. Margaret’s Health Peru.
Funeral services will be 1:30 PM Sunday in the Hurst Funeral Home in Tonica with Rev. Deepak Holkar officiating. burial will be in the old Tonica Cemetery. Visitation will be 12:00 PM Sunday in the funeral home until time of services. The funeral services will be live streamed via the Hurst Funeral Home Facebook page.
Rita was born Rita M. Geiger in Grand Ridge, Illinois on June 9, 1928. She grew up on a small farm, and attended elementary school in a one room schoolhouse right across the road from her childhood home. She achieved her high school diploma from Grand Ridge High School.
Rita met her future life partner Jack at a Grange Rural Youth dance. They were married after his military service in 1948 and began a family. Rita and Jack farmed in partnership with his brother Bob and Howard Ashley, Jack and Bob’s father.
Life as a farm mother and wife was busy and fulfilling. Rita and Jack have three children: Cathy, John, and David. Rita was active in the Tonica school’s PTA; and was a Den Mother in the Boy Scouts. She was an avid seamstress, making some of her own clothes and doing endless repairs on those of her husband and children. She loved her kids and they knew she was always there for them.
As the kids grew up and began their advanced educations, Jack and Rita were planning for their active retirement. They found a winter home in Lake Wales, Florida, where they made a second home at Saddlebag Lake Resort. There Rita joined the tennis club, threw horseshoes, and made many new friends. She and Jack enjoyed dancing, card parties, and the many resort activities. She took up machine embroidery to add to her sewing skills, and began quilting.
Rita and Jack spent their winters at Saddlebag for over 30 very happy years.
Rita suffered a terrible loss at the death of her beloved Jack in 2019. Their marriage lasted 71 wonderful years! She carried on winters at Saddlebag Lake, and came home to Tonica for the summer. As example of how independent she could be, she renewed her driver’s license in Illinois in June of 2021…. at age 92!
Rita enjoyed life, friends, and family up to the last. She will be sorely missed.
"Beauty comes from a life well lived. If you've lived well, your smile lines are in the right places." --Jennifer Garner
Her smile was always present; almost a trademark.
Rita is survived by her children, daughter Cathy, sons John (Susan), David (Karen) and grandchildren Bruce and Bryan (Mallory). Preceded in death by her mother Sara and father William; brothers Irvine, Francis, John, Lawrence, Charles, and sister Clara.
Memorials may be directed to the Tonica Volunteer Fire Department.
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