Rita Rhoades

Rita Rhoades, 88, of Jefferson died Sunday, July 30, 2017 from complications of MS.

Mass of the Christian burial was held Friday, August 4, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jefferson with Msgr. Kevin McCoy officiating. Interment was made in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Jefferson. Musical selections were sung by Amy Rosters and Rachael Rhoades with Lois Last as organist. Catholic Daughters of America Rosary was prayed on Thursday evening followed by a Vigil for the deceased at Brown Funeral Home in Jefferson, Iowa. Serving as casket bearers were Kirk Setzer, David Dunne, Bill Dunne, Bob Stream, Jonathan Smith and Steve Walker. Serving as honorary casket bearers were Rita’s grandchildren: Monica Rhoades, Sarah Casados, Melanie Sheafer, Laura Samnadda, Christian Setzer, Seth Rhoades, Rachael Rhoades, Lindsey Ante and Lynette Bond.

Rita Clare Minnihan Rhoades was born June 26, 1929, the daughter of James Arthur Minnihan and Helen Clare Shaw Minnihan. She grew up on the ancestral farm near Jefferson, Iowa and attended country schools in Bristol Township and later graduated from Jefferson High School in 1947.

Rita attended Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for one year and then worked as a bookkeeper at Monthei Implement in Jefferson. She met Robert (Bob) Rhoades at a youth center dance in 1947 just as he returned from military service. They married November 12, 1949 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jefferson. In Rita’s world family always came first as they had six children in just four and a half years, four sons and two daughters. Diapers were a constant scene on the clothesline. She spent many hours attending her children’s extra-curricular activities and even found time to be a Cub Scout Leader. As a life-long member of St. Joseph’s parish, she laundered and starched altar linens for many years. Faith was important to Rita which she shared with her family.

She worked as the office manager in the family business, Rhoades Plumbing and Heating, over thirty years. A second career was working together with Bob in their own furniture refinishing business.

In November 2013, Rita and Bob made their home at The Gardens Assisted Living and then later Rita moved to Greene County Medical Center Long Term Care Facility. One of her last accomplishments was being “Chief Information Officer,” orchestrating family affairs on her cell phone and keeping a watchful eye over Long Term Care residents and staff. Her sister-in-law, Peggy Dunne, was her faithful roommate and friend.

Rita was known for her sense of humor, sometimes reveling in being a bit unconventional, but always thinking of others. Her hands were actively engaged in a lifetime of helping and caring for family and friends. Even with the progressive symptoms of MS over the last fifteen years, she remained positive and was fiercely independent in spite of her physical limitations, facing her illness with grace and dignity. Her mantra was “There is always, always, ALWAYS SOMETHING to be thankful for.”  

Baking chocolate cakes from scratch was one of her specialties and if you came to visit the Rhoades’ home, you were sure to enjoy a piece of cake (and sometimes, seconds). Rita was an avid seamstress and quilter and innumerable family and friends were recipients of her creative gifts. Rita even made most of the family clothing through the years. Rita faced the many patterns of her life with grace, beauty and laughter and it was indeed a life quilted with love.

Those who mourn her passing are her husband, Bob Rhoades of Jefferson; children: Michael (Mona) Rhoades of The Villages, Fla., Jerry (Kathy) Rhoades of Alameda, Calif., Theresa Ritland of Ames, Linda (Kirk) Setzer of Amana and Patrick (Jane) Rhoades of Des Moines; nine grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; a brother, Jerry Minnihan of St. Louis, Mo. and daughter-in-law, Kathy Rhoades of Des Moines. Preceding her in death in her immediate family are her parents; infant brother, Thomas Eugene Minnihan and son, Joseph L. Rhoades, MD.

Memorials may be sent to the Upper Midwest Chapter of Multiple Sclerosis Society, 200 12th Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Brown Funeral Home, Jefferson.

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