Rita Dunavan

Rita Marie Dunavan, 86, of Hiawatha entered into eternal rest on Sunday afternoon February 12, 2023 at Vintage Park where she had been a resident the last few years. 

Rita Marie Niemeyer was born on August 11, 1936 in Falls City to the late Herman and Rosa Bauman Niemeyer. She was raised in the Falls City area, graduating from Sacred Heart High School in 1954. She worked for a few years at the Falls City Community Hospital prior to her meeting her lifetime love George Dunavan. George and Rita were united in marriage on October 25, 1958. The couple were the proud parents of one son, Mark Edward born on September 10, 1961. 

Rita was a member of Saint Ann’s Catholic Church where she served in numerous capacities through the years. She was a quiet woman who found her joy in serving her church and her family. Choosing not to work outside the home, she dedicated her days to maintaining her home and fussing over Mark and George.  

When she wasn’t tending to the home, she enjoyed playing cards with friends and family, vacationing with Mark and George, time spent with her siblings, nieces and nephews and caring for her beloved collections – she enjoyed stamps and coins, souvenir spoons from all the places they traveled, and buttons. While these things all were hobbies she enjoyed, none were quite as fulfilling (or challenging) as the one she acquired in May of 2000. 

When blessed with her granddaughter Savannah Marie, Rita found a new and exciting way to occupy her time. And once Savannah started to show herself as a bit of a tomboy who loved fishing and being messy with Grandpa, Rita soon made it her mission to teach her to be a young lady! From things like Sunday curls for church and sitting nicely in a dress to things like cooking and setting quietly to color, Rita was always her most happy with her “sweet kiddo” at her side.  When she discovered that Savannah almost always had a song and that she was always ready to share it, she quickly became known for telling her “No singing at the table, Mabel!” a phrase Savannah still uses now! 

Rita spent the last few years at Vintage Park in Hiawatha where she enjoyed the care of the staff and the friendship of others.  As her health worsened she was also cared for by the staff of Freedom Hospice, and the family is so very thankful for the professional and loving care she received from everyone who was a part of her care team. 

Rita is predeceased by her husband George and son Mark, as well as her sister Maryann Faller and brother Leonard Niemeyer. 

She is survived by her “Sweet Kiddo”, granddaughter Savannah Dunavan of Omaha, granddaughter Alicia of Washington, her sisters Helen Goltz of Rulo Nebraska and Rosemary Smith of Claremore Oklahoma, numerous nieces and nephews and many friends. 

Funeral Services were held at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 18, at Chapel Oaks Funeral Home in Hiawatha.  Father Dan Gardner will officiate. Interment followed at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Hiawatha.

 The family meet with friends one hour prior to services Saturday.

Memorial contributions are suggested to St. Anns Church, Brown County Veterans Honor Guard, Freedom Hospice, which may be sent in care of the funeral home, 124 S 7th St., 66434.


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