Rita Joan Johnson (née Hudson), wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, nurse, and artist, left this world peacefully at 92 years of age on Saturday afternoon the 15th of July, 2023, with her two daughters by her side.
Rita was born February 17th, 1931, in Boone County, Iowa, to Thomas Nathan Hudson and Geneva Mabel Hudson (née Hall.) The oldest of seven children, she loved her siblings, Mary Sether, Donna Hastings, Thomas Hudson, Frances Gurch, Evelyn White, and Maxine Smith. Rita spent the first years of her life on a farm in rural Iowa, where she attended a one room schoolhouse. When she was in high school, the family moved to Lynchburg, Ohio, where Rita’s father owned and operated a limestone quarry. Rita attended Lynchburg High School, where she played clarinet in the band, edited and illustrated for the school yearbook, was active in 4H, and met the love of her life, Myron T. (Ted) Johnson. Following Rita’s graduation from Christ Hospital School of Nursing, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Ted’s graduation from Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, Ted and Rita married on the 11th of September 1952.
After graduating from nursing school, she began her career as a Registered Nurse at Clinton Memorial Hospital in Wilmington, Ohio. Rita’s nursing career continued to grow as she moved to positions of increasing responsibility. During this time Rita and Ted welcomed into their lives their greatest joy, their two daughters, Jean in 1953 and Jennifer in 1958. After several years in Wilmington, Ohio, they moved to the greater Cincinnati Ohio metropolitan area. Due to Ted’s teaching schedule and Rita’s nursing flexibility, the family took the opportunity to take several long summer trips to many National Parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Glacier, among others.
In 1969, Rita and Ted moved to Traverse City, Michigan, living on High Lake. Rita served as the Director of Nursing at Traverse City Osteopathic Hospital. Rita and Ted loved their new life in Michigan and built their dream home in Kingsley, Michigan, in a lovely, wooded area not far from Traverse City. Rita went on to explore work in other areas of nursing, including finding great satisfaction later in her career as a home health nurse.
Rita and Ted always loved nature and in 1987 had the opportunity to retire and become part of a wilderness community in the upper peninsula, north of Champion, Michigan, just south of Lake Superior. Rita and Ted purchased the Ledge Cabin as part of the Four Island Lake Association, and spent 18 happy years there with dear friends, blazing trails, making maple syrup, and fishing. Rita loved having her grandchildren, Jennifer’s boys Nathan and Justin, and Jean’s son Patrick and daughter Kathleen, up at the cabin to enjoy cooking, baking, and endless games of Skip-Bo and dominoes.
During this time, Rita and Ted decided to spend winters in Northern California, near their daughter Jean and her husband John. They lived in the Mendocino area, first in Fort Bragg, and later at The Woods senior community in Little River, where they eventually moved permanently year-round. They became active members and docents at the beautiful First Presbyterian Church of Mendocino, with its iconic location directly on the Pacific Ocean. After ten years there, Rita and Ted decided to relocate once again, moving closer to their daughter Jennifer and her husband Mark in Quincy, California, a lovely mountain forest community in Plumas County. They both spent the last years of their lives in this beautiful area, enjoying the mountain air, striking autumn leaves, and their beautiful flower garden.
Rita was a lifelong gardener, and loved growing flowers in her many gardens, particularly roses.
Rita will be remembered for artistry, including her love of painting, quilting, and sewing, which she shared with many members of her family. Almost all of her siblings, children, and grandchildren have pieces of her art by which to remember her.
Rita lost her loving husband Ted in 2019, after 67 wonderful years of marriage. Rita is survived by her sisters, Mary and Maxine, her daughters Jean Brennan (John Brennan) and Jennifer Ayres (Mark Ayres), her four grandchildren: Nathan Drabek (Alexis Drabek and their children—Rita’s great-grandchildren—Francis, Laurel, and Jonathan), Justin Drabek, Patrick Brennan (Sierra Sollohub), and Kathleen Fisher (James Fisher).
The family would like to thank Wanda Partlow, Amanda Cotey, and the staff at the Plumas District Hospital in Quincy for their loving and expert care of Rita over the last several years.
If you wish to send flowers, please send them to Blair Mortuary, Quincy, California. A service will be held at 11am on Saturday, July 22, 2023, at Old Quincy Cemetery. If you wish to make a donation in Rita’s honor, please consider a contribution to your local botanical garden or arboretum.