Rita Montgomery Memorial

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Memorial for Rita Montgomery

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Memorial:

Memorial Rita Montgomery

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In Loving Memory Rita Montgomery July 15, 1936 to January 10, 2012

Memorial Program:

Memorial Program Rita Mae Wacken Montgomery Rita Montgomery was born Rita Mae Wacken on July 15, 1936 in Salem, Oregon. Her parents were Elmer “Red” Wacken and Mona Mae Wacken née Smith. She spent her earliest years on the farm her grandfather homesteaded in Puddin ’ Creek, east of Salem. Her family then moved to Portland, first to the St. Johns area, and then to southeast Portland where she was graduated from Franklin High School in 1954.

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Rita often said she knew when she was in first grade that she wanted to be a teacher. So with a scholarship in hand, she went to Mon-mouth to attend what was then Oregon College of Education to prepare to be an elementary teacher. The summer after her sophomore year, she was in Portland and met and began courting Morris (Monty) Montgomery. They were married September 14, 1957 and moved to live near his military base in San Diego County, California. Their first child, Rinda Mae, was born July 1, 1958.

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The fall of 1959, Rita and Monty returned from California and Rita completed her teaching degree. Her first job was in Bethel School, one of Polk County’s last one-teacher school houses. She taught there two years.

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Rita stayed home the next few years running a day care center in her home, and giving birth to Dee Ann on October 10, 1961 and David Alan on November 24, 1963. When David entered kindergarten, Rita returned to teaching.

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Rita taught for two years in Scio School District, then began at Perrydale School District, first teaching grades 5 and 6, then later grade 3. During seven summers in the 1980s, Rita ran a private sum- mer school called The No Nonsense School. She retired from teaching in 1997.

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Rita was a long-time member of the teacher’s society known as Delta Kappa Gamma which hosts local events for teachers and sponsored teacher training and professional development worldwide. Rita was also a long-time member of Beta Sigma Phi International, a service organi-zation focused on community needs within each chapter’s location. Through this organization she made many lifelong friends and spent many cherished hours in fellowship and service. In retirement, Rita and Monty volunteered with the Polk Historical Society.

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Rita enjoyed old movies, especially musicals, reading, and crocheting, but mostly spending time with family and friends. For 50 years Rita and Monty hosted a Christmas Eve open house in their home. Later in life, it was Rita’s pride and joy to spend time with her granddaugh-ter , Melody Mae, born July 11, 1998. Rita is survived by her husband, children, and grandchild.

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We love you, Mom, for being not only a gentle mother, But also a friend we could share with And talk to And trust. We love you for being yourself with us And letting us know you the way you were. We love you For standing up to us when we needed it, And for standing by us—always. We love you for telling us the truth When we didn’t want to hear it, For having so much courage, And so much patience, And so much love.

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Acknowledgement The family wishes to express our sincere thanks for the expressions of love during our time of bereavement. Please make donations to the Polk Historical Society or the Paralyzed Veterans of America. MEMORIAL SERVICE Saturday, January 14th, 2012, 2:30 p.m. Dallas Mortuary Chapel 287 SW Washington Street Dallas, Oregon

The Service:

The Service Welcome, everyone. We are here today to celebrate and commemorate the life of my mother, Rita Montgomery. Aren’t we lucky to have been touched by her life? It’s not possible to summarize Mom’s life, but I’d like to talk a little bit about what I saw in Mama that showed me what she believed in.

Smiling:

Smiling Mama believed in smiling. It seemed she felt it was the cure for anything anyone was experiencing. She always had a smile, and a look that showed that smile was a smile of sympathy and understanding. It didn’t matter who you were, and more importantly, it didn’t seem to matter what she was going through. She still believed in smiling and feeling that connection with others when they responded to her smile.

Humor:

Humor Mom believed in humor. I remember her wearing this necklace, a long necklace with a large ceramic rabbit on it. You couldn’t miss this thing. It was as if she had strung a child’s toy around herself. And she’d walk up to people and say, “Do you like the hare on my chest?” When she was still teaching and her teaching colleagues would meet at the Hong Kong for Friday’s R&R at the bar, the jokes she wanted to share were a little risqué, so she typed them out on index cards and pulled them out of her purse to pass around. Here they’d all be, looking down in their laps, then laughing uproariously, then passing the card to the next person and lowering their heads. I can’t imagine what the bar staff thought was going on.

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During her last few months, she used to tell jokes to the hospital people. One of the ones she told repeatedly was, “What did one earthquake say to the other earthquake?” “Not my fault.” She just loved to hear people laugh. It was a core component to her relationship with Daddy. They joked with each other a lot. They even had pretend fights which ended in that funny look that says “You know you’re a nut.”

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As Mom’s medical condition became more complicated, Daddy, true to form, went into problem solving mode trying to reason out a solution. But of course, he’s not a medical doctor. So mother had a nickname for Daddy when he began dispensing “medical” information. This last Christmas, he had Dee get her a t-shirt to give to daddy that said across the front “Dr. Whacko.”

True Grace and Elegance:

True Grace and Elegance I remember recently Mom talking about her own mother, and she said she was very stately and elegant, and made a comment that indicated she had not acquired those attributes. But I believe Mom was an example of true grace and elegance. You can’t put on grace and elegance by wearing certain clothing and putting on airs pretending to be something you are not. Mom’s grace and elegance was understated, but you couldn’t miss it. She was real.

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She worked with real people. She spent time in real ways. She taught, raised a family, volunteered, visited friends and family, entertained, and organized events. She didn’t run with a posh crowd, or strive to climb any social ladder. But with everyone she was herself. Even the latest member of the family, the dog, it wasn’t a dog from a puppy farm or an expensive breeder. He was a recue dog. But he turned out to be quite a pet with a great personality and winning ways with everyone. Kind of like Mom.

Shared Experiences:

Shared Experiences Mom was always thinking of ways to create shared experiences. And it wasn’t just about giving a party or having a gathering. She always put special thought into every event, even the meeting portions of gatherings for sorority or the historical society. How can this be special? How can this be different? How can this create a memory? She had a knack for creating culture and traditions in everything.

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When the Christmas tree is decorated, the last thing to happen is the star on top, and Daddy does that. Every holiday dinner there’d be one new recipe, and hopefully one favorite thing of everyone there. The Christmas Eve open house was from 6:00 on, and you got only one invitation that lasted your whole life. Oh yes, and the house rules: you must make yourself at home, and you must have a good time.

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For their 50 th wedding anniversary, Mom and Dad didn’t want to have a splash party or reception. They wanted the family to go to the UK together, a shared experience. So off we went for nearly a month, visiting seven cities, all of us running about different direction during the day, but coming back to Mom at the end of the day for a shared meal and stories of all the things we had done.

People:

People It’s no surprise that Mom went into teaching. She knew from first grade she would be a teacher. When she met Dad, she said she was going to be a teacher and nothing would keep her from it. She believed in people. She believed in their potential, and wanted to help them get there. Her life was all about people and the experiences you had with them.

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She could look at you and see all that you are, and also all that you could be and wanted to be. She believed you could get there, be anything you wanted, have the life you desired. Part of her creating shared experiences was about making life’s experiences something that you would not only remember, but remember for a reason, and that it changed you somehow.

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She thought of taking the family away for a shared birthday experience just after my sister’s birthday every year. We’d go up to Kah Nee Ta most years, and just be together, talk and eat and swim and play games. Even when everyone went their different directions for hiking or swimming or going to the spa, she was like the center that we all returned to, and she reveled in our good times. Anyone who talked to her saw in her eye something different.

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She was a great listener, but she was seeing us in a way we didn’t see ourselves. There are a few teachers who have that gift; they can see the potential in people. She can see their essence and possibilities.

What Doesn’t Fit?:

What Doesn’t Fit? What had no part in her life, in her belief system, was deliberate, conscious cruelty. I remember talking with Dad and Dee about how hurt mother would get over the deliberately mean things that people did to people, even her, and how Mother could never understand it. It seemed to haunt her for years. And I think now it’s because she could never let that be part of her understanding of reality.

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People are the essence of life. They are precious pearls. Why would you do anything to hurt or cause sorrow to a person? It bothered me that she couldn’t let those things go. But now I think if she had accepted people’s ability to be mean, it would have shattered her view of the world and the rightness of things.

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So that’s what has come to me the last couple of days, Mom’s belief in smiling, humor, grace and elegance, shared experiences, and the glory in the potential of people. Before I share some final thoughts, the family wanted to give you a chance, if you’d like, to share some stories about Mom with the rest of those gathered here today.

Final Thoughts:

Final Thoughts The first words out of my mouth when I got word that Mama had passed away were, what should I do? I think that’s a normal reaction, what’s next, what do I do, what now? I’d like to suggest a change to that. It’s not what should I do. It’s how should I be? Well, how was Mom at those times she touched your life? What was it about her that left its impression on you? And then, pay it forward.

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If it was her smile, then pass that smile along to someone else, someone who needs it. How about telling a joke, or if you can’t tell jokes, type them up on note cards and pass them around. Can you add a touch of grace or elegance to the lives of those around you in the form of a kind word, a card, or flowers?

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What about creating a shared experience, with a special thought to the likes and interests of the people involved? Can you look at someone with eyes that say, “I see the pearl in you, I see your potential,” and give them hope without even uttering a word?

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The way to honor and celebrate Mom’s life is to remember whatever it would that touched you, and then pass it forward. After all, what greater legacy could there be for a teacher?

Notes at the End:

Notes at the End Donations to Polk Historical Society or the Disabled Veterans of America The sprays of pearls given out are to remind us that the pearls we got from Mom we can pass on to others. The wake is Sunday, January 15, from 2:00 to 4:00 Mother’s sorority sisters have a final farewell ritual (each leaving a yellow rose by Mom’s photo at the altar as they exit), then the family will exit and receive people by the fireside. Rinda’s email: rinda@rinda.org Rinda’s FaceBook : RindaMC Rinda’s Skype: RindaMC

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