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Rita Melina Ladewig

1921 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Rita Melina Ladewig Obituary
Rita Melina Ladewig was born October 16, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan, the last of five children of Harley and Hilda Van Warmer. She passed away December 16, 2017, at age 96, in Riverside, California, following a stroke.
Rita grew up in a happy, loving home with three older sisters (Evelyn, Arlene and Vivian) and brother Harold, supported by her widowed mother during the Great Depression. From this entrepreneurial and hard-working mother who kept her family together by selling corsets and bartering for piano lessons, Rita learned frugality with money and became a fine homemaker as well. The piano lessons instilled a life-long love of music and singing, and the joy of dancing from her older sister Arlene.
Rita's brother Harold was an outstanding pilot in WWII, but his plane was eventually shot down and he went missing for a time, presumed dead, along with most of his crew. He was later freed from a Japanese prisoner of war camp. To stay busy while her brother was overseas, Rita volunteered as a state-side USO dance hostess; joining many other young ladies who helped keep up the spirits of soldiers stationed at Fort Custer, Michigan. She also enjoyed working as an operator for the Western Electric Phone Company in the 1940s.
After the war, Rita met a handsome veteran named "Bob," and they were married in May, 1950, living in a Quonset hut on the campus of Michigan State University while Robert finished college on the G.I. Bill. In 1953 they moved to California from Michigan in an Airstream trailer, with their three preschoolers. When number four arrived, it was time to buy a house! She and Robert raised six children, Elizabeth (Jim), Christine (David), Robert Michael (Joanne), Mark (Dorothy), Cynthia (Steve), and Mary (Chad) in Whittier. Rita worked at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School for several years while her children attended there, later utilizing her gift of color coordination and decorating as a consultant in Hinshaw's Ethan Allen furnishings department. She and Bob became active square dancers, as well as faithful members of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church.
In 1989 she and Bob moved to Hemet and enjoyed many happy years living in the Seven Hills retirement community, where Rita served in several positions including president of the clubhouse association. This was a perfect fit for her, organizing socials and dances, enjoying the recreational activities and pool exercises. They made many new friends, sharing much in common with couples of "the greatest generation" living there, and attending Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church. Later she would also volunteer tutor with students at a local elementary school.
After 58 years of marriage, Bob passed away in 2008. Rita remained in their home for the next 8 years, moving to Brookdale's Sun West retirement community in 2016. Rita leaves her six children and spouses, ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. She joins her family in heaven, and probably already has Bob out dancing on those streets of gold. . . !
Memorial Mass to be held at: Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, 790 S. State Street, Hemet, CA. on January 13, 2018 at 10:30 A.M.
Published in Press-Enterprise on Dec. 21, 2017
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