Rita M. Willenbring, 93, of Farley, passed away peacefully Sunday, Nov. 21, at River Bend Retirement Community, Cascade.
A private family visitation was held Tuesday, Nov. 24, at Reiff Funeral Home in Farley. A private mass of Christian burial followed at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Farley, with Rev. Michael Schueller presiding. Eucharistic Minister was Donna Beresford. Lectors were Amy Meskimen and Joan Willenbring. Placing of the Pall was done by Donna Beresford, Jim Willenbring, Deb Singley and DeeAnn Sisam. Music was provided by the Resurrection Choir. A Eulogy was given by Deb Singley. Burial was held in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Farley. The services were live-streamed on the St. Elizabeth Pastorate Facebook page. Casketbearers were Scott Willenbring, Jamie Beresford, Matt Singley, Mark Singley, Paul Sisam and Scott Meskimen.
Rita was born Nov. 24, 1926, to Al and Mary Steffen in Luxemburg, the third eldest of the six “Steffen Girls” and one brother. She attended country schools in the Luxemburg area. She met Elmer Willenbring at the New Vienna Dance Hall and they were married May 27, 1948, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Luxemburg. Elmer and Rita farmed on the Willenbring family farm near Farley where they raised their family. Their first move off the farm was to a house built at the edge of the farm, just off the highway nearer to town. They moved to their “Retirement Home” in Farley Nov. 1976. Rita was always a farm wife at heart.
She enjoyed gardening and flowers, bowling, quilting, playing cards, and dancing. Rita was a member of the Catholic Daughters of Americas Presentation Court #1460, Red Hat Society, Farley Garden Club, and sang with the Resurrection Choir at St Joseph’s Church. She was always there for her family, friends, church and the community. Since it was important for her to acquire a high school diploma, she studied and received her GED in 1976. Rita and Elmer loved to travel and took the family on yearly vacations. Later they traveled the United States and Europe with friends and relatives making new friends along the way. She loved spending time with the grandchildren, as well as great- and great-great grandchildren. She especially enjoyed sewing Halloween costumes and crocheting blankets for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, along with the usual mending and repairing clothes.
Surviving are her four children: Donna (Terry) Beresford of Dubuque (Sun City Center, Fla.), Jim (Joan) Willenbring of Farley, Deb (Steve) Singley of Coal Valley, Ill and Dee Ann (Rick) Sisal of Bettendorf; grandchildren: Stacy (Luke) Schmitz, Todd (Sherri) Beresford and Jamie Beresford (Tiffany), Amy (Scott) Meskimen, Sarah (Jayme) Mescher, Scott (Lisa) Willenbring, Ashley (Andrew) Dirksen, Matthew Singley (Julie), Mark (Kelly) Singley, Abbey (Anya) Schaffer -Van Houtte and Jenna and Paul Sisam; great-grandchildren: Katie (Jacob) Schoop, Lindsey (Michael) Kessler, Sarah, Hannah, Matthew and Grace Schmitz, Cayden, Connor, Olivia and Owen Meskimen, Kacie, Madeline, Abigail and Alex Mescher, Tanis, Jonathan and Jacob Willenbring, Landon and Logan Dirksen and Callum Singley; great-great-grandchildren: Ava, Lyla, Jaxon, William, and Evelynn Schoop; one sister-in-law, Kay Steffen; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, October 9, 2000; her parents; siblings and spouses: Aggie (Lefty) Demmer, Esther (Arnie) Bockenstedt, Kay (Bill) Naber, Sally (Bob) Naber, Dottie (Harry) Maiers, and Gene Steffen; brother-in law, Don (Rose) (Laura) Willenbring; and great-granddaughter, Sophia Schmitz in infancy.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to St Joseph’s Church, Farley Garden Club, Hospice of Dubuque, or Rita Willenbring Memorial Fund.
The family would like to thank the Riverbend Community family, Hospice of Dubuque, and Thelma Loes for the compassionate care they gave to mom. The family would also like to thank all those whose wonderful acts of kindness allowed Rita to stay in her home as long as possible.
Anyone wishing to send a memorial may send it to Reiff Funeral Home, ATTN: Rita Willenbring family, P.O. #99, Farley, IA 52046. A photo tribute can be viewed and condolences sent to the family at www.Reifffuneralhome.com.