Rita grew up in Juneau, Wisconsin. She is the daughter of Lil and Louis Schaefer and sister to Roger and Roey. She was the hometown homecoming queen, baton twirler, and worked at the local soda fountain shop. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire with a degree in primary education. Jake finally snagged her and they were married in 1967. They moved to Fort Collins so Jake could study fisheries at CSU while she taught 2nd graders. After his graduation, they moved to Buena Vista and she continued to teach. Megan was born shortly after. They moved to Granby a couple of years later and Sara was born.
Rita had a wide range of occupations: worked as a print shop typesetter, owned a dart shop, created beautiful things at The Flower Shop with her best friend, ran the front desk at the El Monte, baked pies at local restaurants, but she was most proud of cleaning condos in Winter Park so her girls could attend college debt-free.
She was the backbone of the family and cooked endless meals for the seasonal hunters and fishermen, all of Jake’s “summer guys” and Megan and Sara’s friends. In the early years, she was an avid trail biker, hunter and fisher. Jake reports she shot a 30 inch buck (which, of course, he sold for $100 a few years later). She loved watching the Chicago Bulls, saw River Dance several times, went to see Cher in concert and watched Dirty Dancing a 1,000 or so times. She was an avid reader, a piggy bank collector, a passionate gardener, a published author and was always setting a puzzle.
She cherished all of her life-long friendships from Wisconsin, Loveland, Buenie, and Granby. She was constantly trailed by one of her beloved black labs. She loved beating Gracie at Uno, setting puzzles with Megan, playing Boggle with Sara, bickering with Jake and staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading in the basement by a fire with her Coors and ciggies.
We will miss the singing of “Happy Birthday” on our special day; her cream pies; secretly listening to Gracie’s special laugh that only Grammie could get out of her; the way she had to tape all sides of a puzzle box or present, slowly walking around the yard monitoring daily changes, and sitting for hours puzzling away.
If you want to honor Rita, plant an Aspen tree or a flower, bake a pie, set a puzzle, or donate school supplies--especially pencils or books. Also, she had the most beautiful penmanship, write a note to a friend and share your handwriting.
She will be honored this summer. Come walk around her beloved gardens, tell stories, and take one of her piggy banks. If you have memories you’d like to share now, please send them: Bennetts, PO Box 545, Granby CO 80446.