ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Rita D'Angelo, 87 years old, born on September 5, 1933, and passed away on February 21, 2021. We will remember her forever.
Posted by Susan Meister on March 15, 2021
I always enjoyed Aunt Rita. As a child it was so special when Aunt Rita, Uncle Vince and our cousins would visit on a Sunday for dinner with our family. Of course cooked by our 100%authentic old country Italian grandmother Stella. As a child I admired Aunt Rita she was accomplished, intelligent, creative and kind. When cousin AnneMarie was a baby I was a mother’s helper for Aunt Rita. I remember the pinecone wreaths we made together. I remember the camera always close by. I had a wonderful summer baby sitting, learning to as water ski and enjoying Sparta. I know our whole family was so proud of Uncle Vince the mayor of Sparta and the first to go to college. Aunt Rita and Uncle Vince has a true love story. I do know those Giant tickets were used with great enthusiasm. I too never went to a game but my fathers passion was the Giants. After I moved to Florida I was fortunate to visit with Aunt Rita and Aunt Toni when they would make an annual vacation to visit Uncle Nick. It was so nice to see Anne in Boca a few years back with Aunt Rita and Aunt Toni. So cousin Alan,Ann Vicki and I have all visited the old country where our Italian roots are firmly planted. It was those Sunday family dinners that I will always remember. My heart goes out to you Anne Michael and Vince and your families.
Love cousin Sue.
Posted by Regina Hollar on March 13, 2021
Thanks for sharing Rita's life, as a young girl, meeting Vince, days in beloved Sparta, and then moving on to Minneapolis. It is with the best of memories and the wonderful years I remember the friendship that grew between Anne and my daughter, Katy. How grand it was to eventually become a Girl Scout Leader for Katy & Anne at Rev. Brown School. My 2 co-leaders, Rita and Gwen Karl, made a perfect blend of creative ideas, humorous moments, and die-hard "we can do this" activity. I remember one particular local camping overnight when Gwen fell asleep immediately in our large tent platform. She was a deep snorer.  Suddenly, what seemed like the headlights from a car (in the middle of the camp site !?) came rushing into our tent. Rita and I jumped up from our sleeping bags to move out of the way only to have 2 campers holding flashlights barreling into the tent because they thought they heard a bear by their tent. Rita and I stayed awake the rest of the night with occasional deep outbursts of laughter. "WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE??"
Those were wonderful years. 
Posted by Gayla Marty on March 11, 2021
Deepest sympathy to your family on the loss of a beautiful, remarkable matriarch. I am so fortunate to have been touched by Rita through Anne's friendship. Thank you for the wonderful story and great photos posted here ... I am feeling blessed and uplifted tonight by all of it. Peace, love, and light to you all in the days and weeks ahead. She lives on in you.
Posted by SUSAN FURMAN on March 9, 2021
Rita was one of a kind in the best way possible and will be missed by so many! The tribute by the family really gave me a snapshot of some of Rita's proudest moments. I know Rita was very proud of her kids and so appreciated the support and love they gave her throughout her lifetime. Prayers of comfort!
Posted by Karien Fritz on March 7, 2021
She spoke life into me when I could not do it for myself. She gave me Encouragement as well as Affirmation. I am who I am because of who she was and she taught me how to truly love from the depth of my Soul
Posted by Mimi Middleton on March 6, 2021
when someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure
Sleep fast, Rita -

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Susan Meister on March 15, 2021
I always enjoyed Aunt Rita. As a child it was so special when Aunt Rita, Uncle Vince and our cousins would visit on a Sunday for dinner with our family. Of course cooked by our 100%authentic old country Italian grandmother Stella. As a child I admired Aunt Rita she was accomplished, intelligent, creative and kind. When cousin AnneMarie was a baby I was a mother’s helper for Aunt Rita. I remember the pinecone wreaths we made together. I remember the camera always close by. I had a wonderful summer baby sitting, learning to as water ski and enjoying Sparta. I know our whole family was so proud of Uncle Vince the mayor of Sparta and the first to go to college. Aunt Rita and Uncle Vince has a true love story. I do know those Giant tickets were used with great enthusiasm. I too never went to a game but my fathers passion was the Giants. After I moved to Florida I was fortunate to visit with Aunt Rita and Aunt Toni when they would make an annual vacation to visit Uncle Nick. It was so nice to see Anne in Boca a few years back with Aunt Rita and Aunt Toni. So cousin Alan,Ann Vicki and I have all visited the old country where our Italian roots are firmly planted. It was those Sunday family dinners that I will always remember. My heart goes out to you Anne Michael and Vince and your families.
Love cousin Sue.
Posted by Regina Hollar on March 13, 2021
Thanks for sharing Rita's life, as a young girl, meeting Vince, days in beloved Sparta, and then moving on to Minneapolis. It is with the best of memories and the wonderful years I remember the friendship that grew between Anne and my daughter, Katy. How grand it was to eventually become a Girl Scout Leader for Katy & Anne at Rev. Brown School. My 2 co-leaders, Rita and Gwen Karl, made a perfect blend of creative ideas, humorous moments, and die-hard "we can do this" activity. I remember one particular local camping overnight when Gwen fell asleep immediately in our large tent platform. She was a deep snorer.  Suddenly, what seemed like the headlights from a car (in the middle of the camp site !?) came rushing into our tent. Rita and I jumped up from our sleeping bags to move out of the way only to have 2 campers holding flashlights barreling into the tent because they thought they heard a bear by their tent. Rita and I stayed awake the rest of the night with occasional deep outbursts of laughter. "WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE??"
Those were wonderful years. 
Posted by Gayla Marty on March 11, 2021
Deepest sympathy to your family on the loss of a beautiful, remarkable matriarch. I am so fortunate to have been touched by Rita through Anne's friendship. Thank you for the wonderful story and great photos posted here ... I am feeling blessed and uplifted tonight by all of it. Peace, love, and light to you all in the days and weeks ahead. She lives on in you.
her Life

Rita's life story

Rita Mae D’Angelo (nee Martin) died peacefully on February 21, 2021.  She was born on September 5, 1933 in Dayton, Ohio.  

The daughter of Emil and Elizabeth (nee Karas) Martin, by all accounts Rita had a good childhood during the depression and war years.  Her father kept his job as an electrician working on key projects during WWII at Wright Paterson Airforce Base, so the family was relatively well off compared to many then.  Rita recalled that her mother always made sure that there was a large pot of soup kept warm on the back porch of her home for those in the area who had no food.  There was always a line of polite, tired, hungry people.

Rita grew up with her older brother George who died tragically as a child and with a younger sister Anita, who she often traveled on many an adventure with, near and far.

Rita went to Julienne High School, an all-girls school in Dayton, and then studied journalism at Ohio University, graduating in 1955.  Two weeks after graduation, she moved to New York City and worked for the Cleanliness Bureau. She returned to Cleveland briefly and began working for Stouffers Corporation. Missing the big city, she then became the first woman in public relations to work for the new Stouffers restaurant at the Top of the Sixes building in New York City. The announcement in the newspaper shared her credentials and an unusual, additional line “and she’s a real looker.” Rita loved PR and said she never wanted to work for a newspaper because she didn’t like deadlines and found them “horrifying.” 

In New York, Rita met the love of her life, Vince D’Angelo.  They married in August 1959, only the second couple to be married in the newly built Catholic Church on Park Avenue – The Roman Catholic Parish of our Savior. As a gift for her husband on the occasion of their first anniversary, Rita gave Vince two season tickets to the New York Football Giants’ games.  The gift came with two conditions – that Rita never had to go, and that Vince  never take another woman.  Vince passed away in 1981.  Rita never went to a game and all evidence points to the fact that Vince never took another woman to a game.  The tickets still remain in the family today.

In 1960 they welcomed their first child, Michael and in 1963 they welcomed another son, Vincent.  The apartments in Gramercy Park and then Peter Cooper Village, New York City, were getting awfully small for the family. Returning to Gramercy Park later in life, she recounted how she was walking inside the park with Michael in his carriage and was asked to leave because she was wearing pants.  She proceeded to walk briskly outside the gates and around the park. Vince and Rita had many friends from all walks of life – they loved to go to Broadway, live jazz, dine and dance together. 

Rita continued to work as a free-lance writer for the Soap and Detergent Association, with occasional magazine photo shoots with Michael as a baby.  She epitomized the working mother with two jobs, one outside plus the household.  In 1964, the family explored getting a place on Fire Island, NY for summer escapes from the City or to move out of the City completely.  The decision was to move to a home at Lake Mohawk, a community in rural Sparta, New Jersey.  Despite being about 50 miles from New York, and before the construction of interstate highways was in full bloom, Vince commuted by bus daily to the City.  The family still visited Fire Island often over the years and the family has many wonderful memories from there.

The home in Lake Mohawk was remodeled several times, enlarging a kitchen, enclosing a porch, and ultimately adding two more bedrooms.  This final expansion was necessitated by the arrival of a daughter, Anne Marie, in 1967. Rita designed built-in shelving, bookcases and stereo speakers for their many books and records as they loved to listen to big band jazz and dance in the house.

Lake Mohawk was an ideal place for the kids to grow up.  Rita served as a Cub Scout den mother, Girl Scout assistant leader, and downhill ski chaperone. She even became a lunch mother because Anne Marie missed her so much in first grade, she couldn’t go a whole day without seeing her.  Vince traveled a lot for work and as the children got older, with school, sports and other activities, the schedule always kept the family on their toes, especially Rita.  The family would always enjoy a meal all together on Sundays and then have variations as leftovers throughout the ensuing week.  These were the days that, when school was not in session, the kids would go outside in the morning and only return home for dinner – but not until Rita rang the cowbell that could be heard throughout the neighborhood.

Rita had the greenest of green thumbs.  Blessed with a large lot for the home, she turned many parts of the yard into flower beds and fruit and vegetable gardens.  The family always enjoyed fresh lettuce, corn, beans, and strawberries.  Since no one in the family liked rhubarb, people from throughout Sparta would stop by and help themselves to all the rhubarb growing along the street side boundary. One year, she grew so much zucchini, she ran out of zucchini recipes and couldn’t give enough away. She listened daily to Ralph Snodsmith, the garden hotline, and WOR on the radio.

In 1972, Vince ran for the Sparta Township council.  Rita served as his campaign manager and the kids and their friends also served various roles in what was a very close political race.  Vince was elected, re-elected, and held office for nearly 10 years.  He was the mayor of Sparta during the country’s bi-centennial celebration in 1976.  He always attributed his election successes to Rita’s hard work and acumen.

Rita always worked and by the time of the 1970’s, she and her business partner, the late Nanette Milstead of the New Jersey Herald, created Public Relations Originals, Inc. and were publishing newspapers for several lake communities in the Poconos, including the creation of the first community newspaper for Arrowhead Lakes, Pa.  There were always trips to the communities to get stories, pictures and to distribute the papers as well as trips to the printer.  None of these destinations were close to home, so Rita and Nan took advantage of these opportunities to explore the areas while on assignment.

Rita had another side hustle that always took up a lot of time and space at the house.  While living in New York, Rita, who always had an interest in crafts, made pinecone Christmas wreaths which she sold to Lord & Taylor, a large New York department store.  With the move to Sparta from New York City, Rita found a nearly limitless supply of pinecones and had an army of pinecone collectors, the neighborhood kids who were eager for the penny per cone payday.  The smell of the pine cones curing in the oven wasn’t always pleasant but the memories were. 

Vince became ill in the mid-70s and sadly passed away in 1981.  By then Mike was in college and Vincent was soon to be in college.  Anne was much younger, so Rita and Anne survived that period of time by decorating the house mainly “all female” for the next few years.

The 1990s brought change as Rita became a grandmother to Kara in 1991 and to Meredith in 1993.  She would always bring a treat or a small gift when visiting or being visited, hiding the gift in one hand or the other.  It was quite a game as the girls would have to choose which hand contained the bounty.  This earned Rita the nickname “Grandma Which Hand.”  Rita was a fixture at dance recitals and soccer games.

Rita moved from Lake Mohawk to Morristown, selling the unique, half-log home that had been purchased in 1964 and remodeled several times.  Rita was always an accumulator of items, no doubt due to her love of craft shows, garage sales and venues offering a bargain, but more likely in part due to her generation.  Downsizing to an apartment was a challenge that she reluctantly rose to and met.  At this time Rita also began working at Epstein’s, a family run department store in Morristown. She especially loved the decorations and hustle and bustle of the holidays. Rita also loved working with young families in the children’s department where she worked and made many friends.   She loved toys so much that she was known to have a car trunk full.  She would say “you never know when you might need to give someone a gift.” 

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Rita welcomed three more grandchildren with Matthew (1995), Bobby (1997) and Catherine (2000).  Her 5 grandchildren brought her so much joy. She believed in their ideas, listened to their stories, and never wanted to impose on their future plans. She loved taking care of her grandson in his first year and counting steps together daily; taking the kids to her favorite local museum, the Morris Museum; making cookies and dyeing Easter eggs in her apartment; dressing up over the years for trick-or-treating --- she was up for anything and everything. 

In 1995, she moved to Park Edge in Berkeley Heights where she met Sheila, her closest friend for more than 25 years. They loved going to church and having dinner daily together.  It was a special place to live because of all of the wonderful friends she met there – Sheila, Marie, Grace, Marjorie, Cynthia, Lena, Beverly, and others.  Rita had an uncanny way of describing her many adventures and gatherings at Park Edge; so much so that she and Anne considered writing a book about it. In the last few years, she moved to Minneapolis to be near her daughter and made many friends at Wyndris and Catholic Eldercare. She especially appreciated Brigitte whom she connected with deeply and appreciated all her care of her.  

Rita was unassuming and a quiet, devout Catholic.  When first dating Vince, they would meet on Sundays after she went to church.  Eventually, Vince invited himself and joined her. She was always amazed how Vince became so involved in the church later as a lector and volunteer.

Rita was a bit shy and reserved and did not seek or enjoy the spotlight. She often hid behind her camera as a photographer, meticulously positioning family members and others to pose for pictures, often again, and again and again. We’re so grateful for all of the memories captured on slides, film, and phones.

Rita was a long-time communicant of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Sparta.  Later, she was known as the “picture lady” at St. Vincent de Paul parish church and school in Stirling, N.J., where some of her grandchildren went to school.  She never missed an event, and on occasion, her grandchildren were even in the newspaper or bulletin. She learned to use photoshop long ago and even suggested we might consider buying stock as she loved her new MAC.  Why didn’t we listen to that tip? She introduced color pictures to the weekly bulletin and spearheaded public relations for the school and science center as her last act in her employment.  She retired at the age of 79.  

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Rita is survived by her three children, five grandchildren and her sister along with several friends and extended family members. A celebration of her life will occur in late summer/early fall in Sparta, New Jersey.  In lieu of flowers, donations can be given in her name to Pope John XXIII high school in Sparta, NJ; Second Harvest in Minneapolis, MN; or the Lewy Body Dementia Association.
Recent stories

Your spirit

Shared by Jeanne Voigt on March 28, 2021
Rita,
I just missed getting to meet you, but I can see and read and recognize you and your spirit as it shines through your daughter Anne. Anne is a dear friend filled with kindness, wit, a sense of adventure, and curiosity. I treasure our time together. And I am very grateful for that. 
Rest well,
Jeanne

Philosophy of Life ... and In Her Own Words

Shared by Anne D'Angelo on March 15, 2021
Rita never said an ill word about anyone – “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” was her motto. If she was in the presence of someone gossiping, she would surreptitiously walk away and simply say, “well….” She had an uncanny ability to be brief and precise in her words, often leaving us reflecting on what she said and realizing the wisdom of her words.

Many remember Rita and her unique use of new words and phrases.  Her kids often would have to translate for friends and neighbors when growing up.  If Mom was “frischimmeled” – she was unorganized.  If she was “fit to be tied,” she was angry.  On her 80th birthday, her kids and grandchildren recited more than 40 different words and sayings including favorites such as  – “Rats!” “That’s a fine how do you do” “A man on a galloping horse won’t see it. "You could wear a brown paper bag and still look good.” Rita made it a point to be present, curious, and compliment someone each day.  She just made life more fun. 

Love of ALL Holidays

Shared by Anne D'Angelo on March 15, 2021
A holiday did not go by without her celebrating in some way – wearing flag pins for Memorial Day, all red for Valentine’s Day, a large St. Paddy’s day hat for St. Patrick’s Day, birthday hats and silly Halloween costumes. Christmas for Rita was a very special holiday. In addition to the religious celebration, she would decorate extensively, frantically shop for friends and family and make Christmas magical for all. We have wonderful memories of Christmas morning and her special handwritten note from Santa, never realizing it was her handwriting. Rita enjoyed playing with the toys as much as her children and grandchildren.