Rita Marie Denham, 98, died June 17, 2017, in Woodstock.
She was born March 9, 1919, to Arch and Olive (O’Connell) Peebles at a farm outside Griswold, Iowa.
She graduated from Griswold High School and from Nebraska State Teachers College at Peru, Neb., after which she taught grades one to eight in a one-room country schoolhouse near Massena, Iowa.
She married Max Denham, the love of her life, Sept. 23, 1944, upon his return from Pearl Harbor. They made their home in Charles City, Iowa, until job transfers took them to Minneapolis in 1971 and then to the Chicago area in 1975. While living in Illinois, Rita was employed by the Kemper Insurance Company, Long Grove. Upon their retirement in 1984 they returned to Charles City. Max preceded Rita in death in 2005, and in 2011, she moved to Woodstock to live with her daughter and son-in-law, Debra and Mike Walsdorf.
She was a member of St. Patrick of Hartland Catholic Church, and her faith was an integral part of her. She loved to read, and maintained a sense of curiosity and a love for learning that lasted her entire life. She enjoyed traveling and camping with Max, playing bridge, cooking and baking, and tending her flower gardens. She cherished her family and her friends, and she delighted in her children and grandchildren, and was an ever-present source of love and support for all of them.
Survivors include: two daughters, Debra (Mike) Walsdorf, Woodstock, and Judy (John) Smith, Lake Dallas, Texas; four grandchildren, Jennifer Duffy Denham, Christopher (Emily) Walsdorf, Claire Walsdorf and Christie (Bryan) Walker; and two great-grandchildren, Tave and Vann Slangerup.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband; a son, Dennis Denham in 1976; and her parents, siblings and in-laws.
Rita’s smile lit up the room, and her quiet strength and gentle, gracious style touched everyone who knew her. The legacy of love and compassion she leaves behind will bless her family forever.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, at Schneider-Leucht-Merwin & Cooney Funeral Home, 1211 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock. The funeral Mass will be 10:30 a.m. Thursday, June 22, at St. Patrick of Hartland Catholic Church, 15012 St. Patrick Road, Woodstock. Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery, Charles City, Iowa.