Rita Marie (Gallavan) Lee was born to Dick and Regina Gallavan December 7, 2018 along with her twin brother Richard at Old Mercy Hospital in Durango, Colorado. She passed away peacefully at her Durango home on August 29, 2018 surrounded by her family.
Rita grew up in Durango attending St. Columba Catholic School and Durango High School graduating in 1951. She attended Old Fort Lewis and was a cheerleader. Rita went back to school, attending Fort Lewis College, and graduated in 1971, the same year her eldest daughter Wardine graduated high school.
Rita met the love of her life, Ward Lee (Wardie), while attending Durango High School at just 16. They were inseparable from the beginning. They were married December 20, 1952. While Wardie attended college and played baseball, Rita was right there with the girls, often dressing them the same outfits with their hair styled to perfection. She was always dressed to the ”nines” and often decorated her hair as well.
Rita’s devotion to Ward, her daughters and her faith was like no other. Rita said her prayers every day for all of us and we are sure she still is. The entire family would attend mass at St. Columba Catholic Church every Sunday growing up. Every Christmas & Easter she went early to save seats for all of us for mass. She often attended Bible Class on Friday mornings and was on almost every committee at St. Columba as well.
Rita went to work as a substitute teacher at Miller Junior High and then the Librarian for Florida Mesa and Sunnyside Elementary schools. She decorated her library for every occasion. She dressed up for Library week as a full gray mouse and read to the kids. Those who attended those schools remember her generosity, compassion and sweet smile. Rita was an avid reader and sometimes read an entire novel in one day. She was never without her prayer books and a novel.
Rita was a Lifetime member of the Catholic Daughters of America serving as Grand Regent, State Grand Regent and a District Deputy. She was named Catholic Daughter of the Year in 1971. She served on the Board of AABC Baseball serving as chair for the State AABC Tournament played in Durango in 1990. She loved the Broncos since the beginning through their ups and downs. John Elway could do no wrong. She was an dedicated Colorado Rockies Fan. The day she met Todd Helton she said she’d never wash her hand.
Rita, Ward and their girls traveled to many Spring Training games seeing some of the best of the best including Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, and A-Rod. In the later years Rita and Ward traveled numerous times to California seeing most of the coast line from Santa Cruz to Mendocino and lots of country in between.
Rita learned to cook from her mother Regina and from Ward’s mother Gladys. She was known a tremendous cook all over the community as she catered weddings and other events. She was famously known for her 8 egg sponge cake, brownies, hot rolls and the all -time favorite cinnamon rolls. Her generous meals were enjoyed by family and friends alike.
Rita was also known for her crafty ways. She made all kinds of crafts for her home and had a booth at the St. Columba Christmas Bazaar. In the latter years she and Ward started making fudge for the bazaar. It sold out every year.
Rita was a gift to all those who met her. Her generous and kind smile just told you about her heart inside. She will be deeply missed by all whose life she touched.
Rita is survived by her loving husband, Ward and daughters Rita Wardine Lee, Durango, Cyndi Marie (Dennis) Compton, Grand Junction, CO, Lisa Michelle (Gary) Lee-Pearce Sunnyvale, CA, and Karen Annette (Wes) Lee- Fischbach, Roseville, CA. She was Nana to Ben Compton, Eleanor Tardy, James Tardy, Chris Compton and Casey Fischbach and 7 great-grandchildren. She was Aunt Rita to numerous nieces and nephews. Cousin to many.
Rita was preceded in death by daughter, Virginia Ann Tardy, her parents and siblings, John Gallavan, Pat Gallavan, Richard Gallavan, Kate Hahn, Genie McCory, Margaret Baird, and Sheila Aspromonte.
Recitation of the Rosary will Wednesday Sept. 5, 2018, 6:30p.m.at St. Columba Catholic Church. Mass of the Christian Burial will be Thursday, September 6, 2018 @ 2:00pm at St. Columba Catholic Church & Interment at Greenmount Cemetery. Reception to follow from 4:30-7:30PM at Rivers Bend Ranch, 27846 Highway 550 (just 3 miles north of Durango). Come share a hearty meal and memories at the dinner table with the family as Rita, Mom and Nana always had in her home.