Rita Marie (Polaski) Rhoden, 88, passed away on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, in her home after a brief struggle with cancer.
Rita was born on July 31, 1925, to Joachim Arthur “Art” and Linus (Danks) Polaski in New London. She grew up in the house on the northwest corner of Wyman and Millard streets. She and her husband even lived upstairs as newlyweds from 1947 to 1950, when they moved to Northport, where they watched the Wolf River’s spring floods threaten their house nearly every spring. As a child, Rita had her appendix out in kindergarten, which she said made her the first child to have had surgery in the new New London hospital. She also fondly recalled trips to the Leopold & Queeman neighborhood grocery store at Pine and Nassau streets, where children would be rewarded with candy when stopping in to pay their parents’ bills.
After graduating from New London High School in 1943, Rita commuted to work in the office at Appleton Machine until her marriage to Harold Joseph Rhoden on Sept. 9, 1947, a day she would recall as being very hot. She raised five children, and frequently hosted three grandchildren, in that Northport home before moving with Harold to 712 Smith St. in 1986. Rita loved her puzzle books, Shirley Temple, and the graceful character of vintage automobiles, having learned to drive at age 11 in a Model T. Rita cherished her involvement at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church and had volunteered at St. Joseph Residence in New London since 1992, proudly accumulating a collection of service pins. There, seeing people she knew – often much younger than she – Rita grew to appreciate her health and mobility, often driving friends to appointments around town up until late fall of 2013.
She was preceded in death by her father (1953), mother (1957), husband Harold (February 1, 1993), and oldest daughter Kathy Jezeski (2012). Survivors include two sons, Dan (Connie Beyer) Rhoden of Hortonville, and Jim Rhoden (special friend Joanne Gorges) of Oshkosh; two daughters, Mary (Al) Goetteman of Flagler Beach, FL, and Beth (Mark) Morack of Hortonville; son-in-law, Al Jezeski, FL; three grandchildren, Eric (Kristie Fietzer) Rhoden of New London, Vicki Rhoden of Appleton, and Jerry (Gaylene Nash) Rhoden of Wausau; and five great-grandchildren: Brooke, Tori, Trey, Christian, and Corinne Rhoden. Rita is further survived by brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.
The funeral Mass for Rita will be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, New London, with Rev. Msgr. Jim Dillenberg officiating. Visitation will be held at the church on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until the time of service. Burial will be in the parish cemetery. Cline & Hanson Funeral Home is assisting the family with the arrangements.