Olson, Rita M.
RICHLAND CENTER - Rita M. Olson, 90, of Richland Center, formerly of Avoca, died Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, at Schmitt Woodland Hills. She was born on June 29, 1931, the daughter of Gordon and Carrie (Yarish) Olson.
Rita was an amazing, strong-willed, generous and resilient lady. Her humorous and witty personality, along with her infectious laugh, made it hard not to smile when around her. Her joys in life included fishing, baking, scratch-off tickets, going to the boat, puzzles and playing euchre. She always kept a freezer stocked full of delicious baked goods, and if you walked in her door, she'd make sure you left with a loaf of banana bread or a few chocolate chip cookies. Her euchre skills were second to none, and she loved playing at family gatherings, traveling in town with her friend and euchre partner, Shirley Rakow, and continuing to take on anyone that would play once she moved into Schmitt Woodland Hills.
Of all her joys and hobbies, though, music was her true passion, and she had the unbelievable talent of playing completely by ear. Her faith was an integral part of who she was, shining light on the beautiful hymns she played and through her daily prayers. You could find her many Sunday mornings playing the organ for church services at the Avoca United Methodist Church, and she was a member of the church auxiliary for years. In addition to playing the organ, Rita and her good friend, Donna Franklin, were known as the "keyboard gals" and would travel around playing music for many local nursing homes. She loved bringing smiles to their faces, and her joy and energy were contagious. After moving to Schmitt Woodland Hills, her keyboard moved with her, and she continued to play for the residents, including Sunday church services and for Thursday night music. She became known as the "candy lady" and always had candy on hand for the other residents and staff. Above all else, Rita loved making people happy, whether through music, baking, or her sense of humor.
Rita is survived by her children, Emily "Lee" Grizzell of Arkansas, Patsy E. (Tim) Sorge of Blue River, Dennis Halverson of Arkansas, Shirley (Dennis) Clary of Arkansas, and Kerri Jo (Chris) Montgomery of Arkansas; 16 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; sisters, Lorraine Hilleshiem of Cambridge and Connie Cannoy of Muscoda; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Rita was preceded in death by her children, Richard "Dick" and Jurgen Jr.; great-grandson, Eden Lawrence "Bubba" Durst; sisters, Shirley and Donna; brother, Leroy; and nephews, Randy Peer and Bill Ewing.
A private family gathering will be held at a later date at the Avoca United Methodist Church. Burial will be held in the Avoca Cemetery. The family suggests memorials in Rita's name be directed to the Avoca United Methodist Church or Schmitt Woodland Hills. The Pratt Funeral and Cremation Service is assisting the family with their arrangements.