Rita Marie Erusha
Rita Marie Erusha, 96, of Solon, passed away peacefully on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, surrounded by her loving family. Rita had an uncanny ability to make whoever she was speaking to feel like they were the most important person in the world.
She was a beacon of love for everyone in her life, including Donald, her late husband of 68 years; her children, Kathryn, Karlene, Michael and Neil; and as "Nana" to her 11 grandchildren and her beloved seven "greats."
Rita was born Feb. 26, 1924, in Norway, Iowa, to Walter and Esther Erger, and grew up on a farm in the Norway area. They had no electricity until 1939, and she and her family walked along the railroad tracks to get into town and go to church. She started school in 1929, and rode there in a horse drawn school bus. Rita contracted whooping cough in 1st grade, and missed three months of school. She was very proud, however, that in the next 12 years she never missed another day of school. Rita belonged to the Iowa County 4-H club, and helped her brothers show Black Angus cattle along with creating many projects for the fair. Rita helped on the family farm, attended many town celebrations, participated in many high school plays, played basketball, and graduated from Walford High School in 1942. She attended junior college at Mt. Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, and graduated in 1944.
Rita started work at Farmers Savings Bank in Walford and walked over a mile on those railroad tracks to get to work each day, until she was able to drive her family's Model A. She soon started dating the boss's son, Don Erusha; they had their first date three days after he returned to the states from fighting World War II in Europe. Don proposed to Rita on Valentine's day 1950, and they were married on June 20, 1950, at Holy Trinity Church in Walford. Together the couple resided in Atlantic, Cherokee and Chelsea, Iowa, before eventually settling in Solon, where they raised their four children.
An avid reader, Nana loved playing card games with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, shopping, Hawkeye basketball and football, visiting DQ and traveling but, most of all, visiting and spending time with friends and family. She never forgot any detail that she was told, and was the first to notice a new hairdo or shirt. Nana loved celebrating any special occasion, especially Christmas, and her children and grandchildren have many fond memories of some amazing Christmas celebrations as a result of all her love and hard work.
Rita and her husband have established several endowments including Mercy Medical Center Foundation, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, St. Mary's Parish, Solon Area Community Foundation, Loras College, and Mount Mercy University. Rita and Don moved to NE Cedar Rapids in 2004, and moved to Cottage Grove Place in 2012. Rita moved back to Solon in 2020. Rita was a devout Catholic, and she and Don were very involved members of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Solon.
Rita is survived by her children, Kathryn (Gary) Fattig of Chelsea, Karlene (Michael) Lindseth of Eden Prairie, Minn., Michael (Julie) Erusha of Sheridan, Wyo., and D. Neil (Patty) Erusha of Solon; grandchildren, Carrie (Josh) Tinkham, Anne (Mitch) Juelsgaard, Jessie (Jason) Becker, Nicole Lindseth, Daniel (Kirstin) Erusha, Robert (Kacie) Fattig, Andrew Erusha, Krista Lindseth, Sarah Trinkle, Angela Erusha and Owen Erusha; as well as seven great-grandchildren, Sawyer and Cora Tinkham, Braelyn, Lylia and Finley Becker, James Juelsgaard and Laynie Fattig. She is also survived by her siblings, Kenny Erger and Florine (Clair) Rowe; sisters-in-law, Dolores Kaiden and Cordelia "Dilla" Cosgrove; and as well as many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Donald, who died March 14, 2019; her brother, Robert Erger; sisters-in-law, Arlene Erusha, Mary Erger and Ginger Erger; and brothers-in-law, Robert Erusha, Jack Cosgrove and Gene Kaiden.
Private Funeral Mass will be at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Solon. Burial will be in St. John's Catholic Cemetery in Cedar Rapids. Public visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Solon, located 1749 Racine Ave., NE. The family asks everyone attending to please wear a mask and practice social distancing. Brosh Chapel and The Avacentre in Cedar Rapids is in charge of arrangements. The Funeral Mass livestream will be available at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 24, at fb.watch/3LC1TbIeMW/ or at www.solonstmary.org/.
Memorials may be addressed to the family where they will be directed to Rita's favorite charities.
Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.broshchapel.com.