Rita M. Souther

Dec 07, 2018
Rita Souther

Camden — Rita Marian Souther, 94, passed away peacefully on Dec. 2, 2018, at The Gardens, a skilled nursing facility at Quarry Hill in Camden. Born on May 31, 1924, in Rockland, she was the daughter of Artemas S. and Hattie Lyla (Warren) Tibbetts.

Rita spent her early years in Rockland and, at age 11, moved to Kittery, where she graduated from Robert W. Traip Academy High School. While there, she distinguished herself as a member of the girls track team, setting records in the hurdles, and as a cartoonist for the school newspaper with a strip called “Tidbits.”

After graduating high school, Rita worked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard as a waitress before leaving home to go to Charleston, S.C., where she worked as a waitress and singer. From there, she went to Detroit, attending art school and supporting herself by riding a motorcycle in a stunt show and working as a nurses’ aide in a local hospital.

Following an accident, Rita returned home in 1943 and went to work in a war plant. In the spring of 1945, Rita met her future husband, Robert H. Souther Jr., a Marine who rotated back to the States after three campaigns in the South Pacific. They were married in July of 1945.

When World War II ended, the couple settled in Kittery until the birth of their first child. They then moved to Providence, R.I., where her husband went to college. Following his graduation, the couple moved to New Jersey, where their daughter was born. In September 1950, her husband was called up for duty in Korea, and Rita and her children went to live with her parents in Kittery. During that time, she worked as a waitress in the officers’ club at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Following her husband’s discharge from the Marines in 1951, the family settled in Midland Park, N.J., where she lived until December 1994. Over the years, Rita served as a Cub Scout Pack Leader, a Brownie Scout and Girl Scout Troop Leader, and eventually rose to the position of Girl Scout Community Chairwoman. Also, she was a merit badge counselor for the Boy Scouts and a member of the Juvenile Conference Committee, a panel of volunteers from the local community who are appointed by the Family Division Judge and are specifically trained to hear and make recommendations in juvenile delinquency cases.

When her husband retired, the couple moved to Dunnellon, Fla., where Rita became a columnist for the Riverland News, after submitting a letter to the editor that was so impressive, she was offered the position. During the seven years she lived there, “Spindrift,” as the column was called, covered everything from political issues to reminiscences about outhouses and Christmases of days gone by. When her trusty word processor died, Rita moved to composing on a computer at the age of 76. Writing was always a passion, and she continued to share her thoughts with articles in Writ Large, a publication of stories, memories, poems and the like, written by Quarry Hill residents and through letters to the editor of the Bangor Daily News, a fair number of which were published, much to her delight. And the computer was not only a composing tool, it became a window to the world as she played cribbage online with people from across the globe.

The family would like to thank the staff at The Terraces and The Gardens at Quarry Hill and Maine Health Care Hospice for the excellent care Rita received while she was a resident there.

Rita was predeceased by her husband Robert H. Souther; a daughter Nancy Anne Souther and two sisters; Ruth Penofsky, of Brentwood, N.Y. and Elizabeth “Betty” Seward, of Kittery.

She is survived by two children, Robert and his wife, Barbara, of Caribou, Phyllis Barry and her husband, Michael, of Old Bethpage, N.Y.; two granddaughters, Bethany Zell and her husband, James, of Caribou, Barbara “B.J.” Kopishke and husband, Matthew, of Liberty; five great-grandchildren, Christina Zell, Elizabeth Zell, Tanner Zell, Abigail Kopishke and Emily Kopishke; as well as four nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.  In lieu of flowers, donations in Rita’s memory may be sent to The Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, P.O. Box 1807, Auburn, ME 04211-1807.

Condolences may be shared with the family at longfuneralhomecamden.com.

Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, in Camden.

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