Rita B. Palmer, 95, passed away in Olympia, Wash. on Friday, March 15, 2013, from age-related heart failure. She had made her home with her son, Stet, and daughter-in-law, Lynne Palmer for the past seven years.
Rita, the seventh of 10 children, was born at the family home in North Ridgeville, Ohio on Dec. 3, 1917. Her parents were William H. and Cecilia R. (Fischer) Rothgery. Rita graduated from North Ridgeville High School in 1935. After graduation, Rita worked for Elyria Dairies and the Bendix Company.
After World War II (1948) Rita and her husband C.C “Doc” Palmer loaded their children and a few possessions in their home-built truck camper and headed west for a new life, eventually settling at Schafer State Park on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. They were later joined in their work and home at the park by Rita’s older brother, Norb Rothgery. Rita served as a volunteer park host and office worker in her husband’s state park district office at Schafer until 1973. She was also active in the community, took an interest in helping the elderly and sick, and always set a spot at her dinner table for anyone who stopped by the park. After her husband’s death in 1973, Rita studied at Grays Harbor Community College. She then went to work at Aberdeen Federal Savings and Loan until retiring at age 69 to care for her brother. In retirement, Rita took joy in time spent with her neighbors and grandchildren, bowling with friends, keeping a home open to all and with volunteer activities at Saint Joseph’s Catholic Parish in Elma.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents, William and Cecilia Rothgery, brothers, Leroy, Sylvester, Alfred, Joseph and William; sisters, Rose Roling and Agnes McDonnell (all of northern Ohio); brothers, Robert of Indiana and Norbert of Elma; husband, C.C. “Doc” Palmer of Elma; and also Barbara Davis of Bellevue, Wash., who was both her daughter and friend.
Rita is survived by son, Stet (Lynne) Palmer; son-in-law, Dean Davis in Bellevue, Wash.; grandchildren, Erika (Joe) Callero in Arroyo Grande, Calif., Lt. Col. Tom (Cathy) Palmer in Goldsboro, N.C., Lt. Col. Adam (Alicia) Palmer in Honolulu, Hawaii, Gregory Roth in Seattle, Wash., John (Shannan) Roth in Bellevue, Robert (Lynn) Roth in Marysville, Wash.; nephew, Dr. Jerry Roling of Shelton, Wash., eight great-grandchildren and numerous friends that she gathered into her family life in Washington.
Rita will be interred next to her husband and daughter at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Satsop Cemetery. This will be followed by a community picnic at Schafer State Park to honor Rita’s tradition of a community gathering that she hosted for many years.