Rita Wagner, 94, passed away Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, at the Stanley Hospital in Stanley.
Rita Marie Nichols was born Nov. 4, 1918, at Epworth, a daughter of John and Margaret (Mahan) Nichols. She grew up on their farm in Oakland Township and attended the country school just across the road, Shell Lake School #2 (Nichols School). Rita attended high school in Parshall and graduated there in 1937. She went to Minot State Teacher's College and then attended Dickinson State Teacher's College in Dickinson, where she got her teaching certificate. She student taught at South Heart and her first teaching job was at Bluegrass. She returned home in 1938 and taught school at the same country school she had attended as a child.
Rita met Wayne Wagner, and they were married on Nov. 5, 1939. They made their first home at Sanish in the back of the gas station where Wayne pumped gas at the station and where he also fixed jewelry. Rita taught at a country school just north of Sanish for a year. Wayne and Rita moved back to McAlmond Township and lived in the Wagner home built by Wayne's father. They began their family there where three of their four children were born: Wally, Dean, and Karlyn. In 1950 they bought a farm in Waterloo, N.Y., to live closer to some of Wayne's relatives. Their fourth child, Kathleen, was born there. In 1961 they decided to move back to their old farm house in North Dakota again. It was then that they moved their farm house into Stanley where Rita lived until the time of her death.
Rita was known to love visiting and hosting many family members over the years, as family meant the most to her. She was known for her strong Christian beliefs and prayed for all family and friends through the many years. She attended Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church since moving to Stanley in 1961. In recent years, while homebound, she appreciated the visits from the priests and Eucharistic ministers who brought weekly communion. She was an active member of the St. Ann's Circle of the church auxiliary. She was a volunteer librarian in Stanley many years ago and was a member of the Big Four Homemakers Club for many years. She also liked to sew, bake, play cards and games, read, and spend time visiting. She especially adored her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. Living to the age of 94, Rita has been blessed with many descendants for a family which spanned five generations.
Surviving Rita are her son, Wally Wagner, of Des Lacs; daughters, Karlyn (Rudy) Maurer, of Stanley, and Kathleen (Larry) Yoder, of Dickinson; sister-in-law, Carol (Johnson) Nichols, of Seattle; grandchildren, Lynnette (Curtis) Vachal and Troy (Wendy) Maurer, all of Ross, Karla (Curt) Philip, of Minot , and Wade Maurer, of Stanley, Dale (Ashlynn) Wagner, of Fargo, Melissa (Ken) Frederick, of Burlington, Bradley (Nicki) Yoder, of Minot, Jason (Tamara) Yoder and Shane (Janelle) Yoder, all of Dickinson. She also had 26 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding Rita in death were her husband of more than 61 years, Wayne Wagner; son, Dean Wagner; grandson, Nick Wagner; sisters, Muriel (Glen) Wakeman, Eunice (Walt) Goughnour and Genevieve (John) Lincoln; brothers, Patrick Vincent Nichols, Pete (Valera) Nichols, Don (Alice) Nichols, Gerald Nichols, Jack (LaVon) Nichols, Clair Nichols and Robert (Peggy) Nichols.
Memorials may be made on Rita's behalf to the Home on the Range for kids at Sentinel Butte. The address is Home on the Range, 16351 I-94 Frontage Rd, Sentinel Butte, ND 58654
The funeral will be Wednesday, Jan. 2, 11 a.m., at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Stanley.
Burial will follow the service at Fairview Cemetery, Stanley.
Visitation will be today, Tuesday, Jan. 1, from 5 to 7 p.m., with a rosary service at 7 p.m., all at Springan Funeral Home in Stanley.
Online condolences may be shared at (www.springanfuneralhome.com).