NEW BEDFORD – Theresa Rita, 80, of East Freetown passed away peacefully on Sunday, October 11, at St. Luke’s Hospital, following a year-long battle with cancer and related conditions. Having been hospitalized only two days earlier, she was surrounded by family during her final hours.
Theresa – or Terry, as she preferred to be called – was the devoted wife of the late John P. Rita. She is survived by her brother-in-law, Father Tom Rita of Fall River; her daughter, Beth Macomber of Assonet; her son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Jackie Rita of Boston; and eight grandchildren: John (and his fiancée, Kaila Medeiros), Anna and Bob Macomber, and Katie, Maddie, Jojo, Evie and Carmen Rita.
A New Bedford native, Mrs. Rita was the only child of the late Joseph and Sylvia (Furtado) Rego and a graduate of New Bedford High School. She was both daughter and wife to commercial fishermen, and for decades her name graced the hulls of vessels in the family fleet: the Theresa and the Theresa R. (wooden draggers), and the Theresa and the Theresa R. II (steel scallopers). With a ready and fresh supply, her kitchen was often filled with the delicious scents of seafood dishes.
Mrs. Rita was an avid quilter, and her and her husband’s lakeside home hosted many gatherings of her fellow guild members. By her and their hands, countless comfort quilts were lovingly made for and distributed to pediatric and other cancer patients in the Bristol County area. Her skills with a needle and thread will be greatly missed, as “Grandma Terry” was her family’s go-to seamstress whenever clothing or beloved stuffed animals needed mending.
A casual sports fan for most of her life, Mrs. Rita became an ardent supporter of the New England Patriots in her later years. One football player, in particular, seemed to capture her attention on any given Sunday. Those suspicions were confirmed when Tampa Bay Buccaneers games suddenly became part of her viewing rotation during the current NFL season.
Having taken such good care of her children and grandchildren when they were young, and then her parents and husband in their old age, Terry struggled with becoming the one in need of care herself. That difficult transition was made smoother by the numerous medical providers, home health aides, friends and neighbors who accompanied her along the last stretch of her life’s journey. Her family members are especially grateful to Donna Macomber, Sue Costa and Sue and Dave Richards for always being willing to check on and help Terry at a moment’s notice.
Mrs. Rita's Funeral Mass will take place at St. John Neumann Church, 157 Middleboro Road, East Freetown, on Thursday, October 22, at 10:00 am. Friends and relatives are invited to attend, and burial will follow in St. Mary's Cemetery.
Arrangements are in the care of South Coast Chapel Mortuary (508-763-0000). In lieu of flowers, contributions in Mrs. Rita's honor may be made to the American Diabetes Association, at www.diabetes.org/donate .
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