Rita Valerie (McFadden) Eichelberger, 78, passed away on Monday, March 17, 2014.
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She was born on April 27, 1935, to Clyde S. McFadden and Florence K. McFadden (both deceased), in Omaha, Neb. She had two brothers, John C. McFadden (Henrietta "Etta") deceased and is survived by one brother, Jerry L. McFadden, and her son, Daniel Gene Copeland (Christine).
Rita was raised in Nebraska, Northern Arkansas and Iowa. Her school years through high school were predominantly in Iowa. She was active in concert and marching band, Glee Club, basketball and other school activities. On graduation, she spent a short time in the California Highway Patrol. She married, and she and Ernest Copeland had one son, Daniel Copeland.
Rita returned to Arkansas, then moved to Joplin, Mo., where she lived for approximately 7 ½ years, working for the city of Joplin. At this time, she married F. Eugene Eichelberger. She returned to California in 1963. She worked for the State Compensation Insurance Fund in San Bernardino, then went to San Diego, where she worked for the Office of the California Attorney General. During this period, she attended Valley Junior College in San Bernardino and Mira Mar Technical/Vocational College in San Diego.
While in San Diego, she became a reserve police officer and was with the first reserve academy that placed female officers in the field. She remained with the Reserves for approximately 7 ½ years, became a sergeant with assigned special duty to the city of San Diego Police Academy for approximately five years. She was an adviser for the classes and coordinated between the classes, field training, testing and various aspects of the program. She was also a Reserve Field Training Officer. After taking a vacation to the Las Vegas area to visit a friend, she moved here and adopted Las Vegas as her home. She resided here from February of 1988.
In her early years, Rita loved to square dance, and belonged to the Joplin Western Twirlers Dance club as a Past Master Square Dancer. She also loved gardening and raised a garden and/or flowers wherever she lived. She was raised on farms and was especially fond of horses and riding whenever possible. She was known for her fondness of cats. Although she enjoyed sewing, knitting and crochet, her greatest love was quilting.
She requested that memorials be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P. O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or 1-877-766-6807.
As per her request there will be no viewing/visitation. The gathering and celebration of Rita's life will be led by her friend Loretta Esquibel. It will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 28, in the Masonic Cemetery, with the following serving as casket bearers: Jerry Ferguson, Darius Sandoval, Lynn Berryman, Larry (Tony) Berryman, Rick Berryman, Victor Sandoval and Polo Grine. Honorary bearers will be Sharon (Berryman) Martinez, Denise (Berryman) Castanon, Alicia Sandoval, Em Krall, Nancy Moberg, Marcy Garcia, Cathy Stauber, Veronica Chavez, Mildred Grine and Modesta Macy. In memoriam Wanda Williamson and Ronald Berryman.
Online condolences can be sent to the family at www.gonzalesfunerals.com. Arrangements are under the direction of Billy G. Rogers at Gonzales Funerals & Cremations, 2315 Hot Springs Blvd., 425-9319 or 1-888-525-9319.
Gonzales Funerals & Cremations
2315 Hot Springs Boulevard
Las Vegas , NM 87701
Published in Las Vegas Optic on Mar. 26, 2014