Rita was educated in Logan City schools and attended Utah State University for two years. That is where she met her husband John Phillips. While dating, John nominated her for Star and Crescent Girl (Sweetheart) of Kappa Sigma fraternity. She became his forever sweetheart when they were married on July 3, 1953 in Logan, Utah. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake City Temple.
As they moved (over 24 times), Rita was able to complete a fine arts degree at Saint Mary’s College, at Moraga, California, where she was on the Dean’s list. John’s Air Force career took them throughout the United States and overseas assignments to Bruxelles, Belgium and Jedda, Saudi Arabia. Travels took them to Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, Africa, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Spain, Turkey, and Tanzania.
Rita worked for the Department of Defense in various locations including Washington, D.C. Fairfield, California, and Saudi Arabia. She also did substitute teaching in elementary schools, middle schools and high schools in many different areas.
She was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints serving as a Relief Society President, serving in the Young Women’s Program for over 20 years as Young Women’s President and advisor in the Young Women’s program, Teacher Development Leader, and as a Primary teacher. She also taught “early morning” Seminary for several years.
She was a Daughter of the Utah Pioneers, and served in several leadership positions in that organization. She also spent many years as a volunteer screening preschool children for lazy-eye blindness (amblyopia). She also served with her husband in the local community volunteering over 500 hours serving high school students and the Airport Museum.
She is survived by: her husband, John, three daughters Shauna Marley (Bill), Stacey Willardson (Bruce) and Cynthia Barney (Jed). She has eight grandchildren, Kaisie Alba (Jason), Chase (Shannon), Taylor (Katy) and Cole Willardson, Zachary, Dylan, Kelsey, and Landon Barney. She has six great grandchildren, Samantha, William, Taylor, Kimberly, Daniel Alba, and Jack Willardson.
Her parents and her sister Gayle Macey preceded her in death. She has one sister Donna Gorman (Jim), a twin brother Reed (Dixie), and a brother Lynn (Karen).
Funeral services will be held Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 11:00 am at the Morningside Stake Center, 881 S. River Road, St. George, UT. Friends may call from 9:30-10:30 am prior to services at the stake center. Interment will take place Saturday, July 19, at 11:00 am in the Logan City Cemetery.
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, (435) 673-2454. Friends and family are invited to sign her guestbook at www.spilsburymortuary.com.