It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rita Needham. Rita died on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, surrounded by family at the age of 91.
Rita was born in Yorkshire, England and was the fourth of eleven children to Lilian and Horace Rhodes (predeceased). In her late teens, she met her true love and soul mate, Alan Roy (predeceased), who correctly foretold he would marry her after only one date.
In the early 1950’s, Rita followed Alan in his dream of starting a new life in Canada, eventually settling in Ottawa and raising three daughters: Jennifer (Ian, predeceased), Beverly (Glenn) and Carolyn (Dan), who were lucky to call her Mom. Rita was a voracious reader, idealistic, principled and kind. Having spent time in the British Land Army, she was a keen and knowledgeable gardener. Rita had a beaming smile and a ready laugh. She was genuinely interested in the lives of everyone she encountered. A sociable woman, Rita enjoyed large extended family gatherings which were full of laughter, robust singing, storytelling, impromptu dancing, games, and of course, great food.
Rita was an active and enthusiastic participant in the lives of her ten grandchildren: Kevin, Johanna (Kyle), Alyson, Elisabeth, Rebecca, Margaret (Dave), Patrick (Antonella), James, Thomas and David, who never did match her Spill and Spell, Boggle or Scrabble skills. As her grandchildren grew up, they welcomed her lived experience and sage advice: “A brisk walk after dinner is the key to good health”; “A strong cup of tea will kill any ailment”; “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” In Rita’s later years, she was delighted to be Great Grandmother to Keira, Maya and Isla.
While Rita loved her life in Canada and travelled to many far-off places, she never forgot her tightly knit family in Yorkshire. Almost every year, she managed to return to The Land of the Rose and cherish her family’s company. She leaves behind five siblings: Nora (late Dennis), Kenneth (late Kathleen), Tom (Ann), Margaret (Tony) and Kathleen (Alan) and predeceased siblings, Raymond (Audrey), Hubert (late Kathleen), May (Pat), Eva and Ronnie (Jean), as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who have shown her great affection.
Many memorable times were spent with the Needham family. Predeceased by Eric, Colin, and Eileen, Rita leaves behind John and family, close nephew Peter and family, and numerous other extended family members. She also leaves behind golden long-time Canadian friends, more recent friends from coffee group and exercise class (she always said one would be surprised how these old ladies could move) and a supportive community of neighbours.
As Rita waved her last cheery goodbye, she did so knowing that she would be deeply missed, always loved and forever held dear by those she left behind. As Rita would sing, “Keep on smiling and the whole world smiles with you.”
Rita’s family would like to thank the many doctors, nurses and support staff at the Civic Hospital (Emergency, The Tent, F7 and E5), as well as Rita’s long-time doctor, Dr. Mary Comerton, for their compassionate care. Thank you also to the ‘Team’, who allowed Rita to die with dignity and peace on her own resolute terms.
Due to COVID 19 restrictions, there will be no Celebration of Life at this time. In lieu of flowers, please donate in Rita’s name to the charity of your choice.