Rita M. Miller, 59, of Lansing, died Wednesday, April 4, 2012, after fighting a courageous battle against pancreatic cancer and complications thereof. Her indomitable spirit, zeal for life and sweet disposition shone through right until her final days.
Rita was born May 1, 1952, in Reedsburg, Wis., the youngest daughter of Harold H. and LaVera L. (Lopau) Schroeder. As the youngest of six siblings, Rita quickly became the favored one and all of her older brothers and sisters enjoyed taking care of her and showing her off to their friends. Little Rita seemed to enjoy all of the attention constantly being showered upon her. Rita attended St Peters Lutheran School in Reedsburg, until her high school years, where she attended Herbert H. Webb High School, also in Reedsburg. It was there where she met her future husband and life’s companion, Dan Miller. Rita was active in many clubs and activities throughout her high school years and was the premier saxophone player in the marching, concert and pep bands. After high school Rita earned an Associate’s Degree from the University of Wisconsin at Baraboo, Wis. She then attended and graduated from the Madison (Wis) Vocational-Technical Institute, in the clerk-typist program; skills which served her well throughout her professional career.
Rita and Dan [Miller] were married on June 22, 1974, at St Peter’s Lutheran church in Reedsburg and immediately moved to LaCrosse, Wis., where Dan was completing his Bachelor’s Degree requirements and Reserve Officers Training Corps training at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. On Dec. 20, 1975, Dan was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and Rita became a proud “Army Wife.” Days later they moved to Fort Benning, Ga. During their 24-year military career, Rita worked outside the home at nearly every duty station; whether stateside or overseas. She expertly managed the Miller household and most importantly, gave birth to and raised (almost single-handedly) two children; a son, Kristopher, and a daughter, Nicole. Motherhood was a special calling for Rita. Despite working outside the home, she always tended to every need of her two children, as well as many of their friends; who affectionately referred to Rita as “Momma Miller.” Rita took great pride in immediately transforming every set of government quarters or local house, into a warm, nurturing and inviting “home.”
Rita was a true patriot and loved this country dearly and what it stands for. Part of that was inspired in her by her family and how she was brought up; but it was raised to an even higher level by her own service to the Nation as a U.S. Army wife for nearly a quarter century. Throughout the Miller home there is an unmistakable “Americana” theme. From 1994 to 2011 Rita worked for the Leavenworth (Kan.) Police Department (LPD); first as the secretary to the Detective’s Division, then as the Administrative Assistant to the Chief of Police. Rita retired from the LPD in March 2011, after a distinguished 17-year career.
Rita is survived by her husband, Dan of the home; her children, Kristopher of Kansas City, Mo. and Nicole of Overland Park, Kan.; her beloved Brittany Spaniels, Amber and Jeni of the home (and back yard); her three brothers, Dick and wife Shirley of Longview, Texas, Jerry and wife Rosemary of Whitefish Bay, Wis. and Encinitas, Calif.; Kent and wife Judy of Stoughton, Wis.; her two sisters, Karen and husband Bill of Chicago, Ill. and Vera of Bonita, Calif.; and 11 nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 10, 2012, at the R.L. Leintz Funeral Home, 4701 10th Ave, Leavenworth, KS. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 11, 2012, at the Pioneer Chapel on Pope Ave, Fort Leavenworth, KS. Burial will follow at Leavenworth National Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 1500 Rosecrans Ave, Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. Their website is located at: http://www.pancan.org/index.php Donations can be made electronically from their homepage or can be mailed to the address above. Make checks payable to “Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.” Please stipulate that your donation go toward early detection and diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.