While a patient in the ER for a minor concern, Rita suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack on Feb 17. She was attended to by a professional care team, and her daughter and a dear friend were nearby. Although considered ageless by all who knew her, she was 85.
A vivacious woman with legions of friends and loved ones, Rita was born in Northside Chicago to Paul & Pauline Liesack. She enjoyed a happy childhood with her sisters Susan and Carol. Their father, a master upholsterer and talented accordionist died when Rita was 17, and she went to work to help take care of her family.
In 1963 Rita married John Lamendella, a linguistics student who shared her love of travel, books and good food. When John got a teaching opportunity at San Jose State in 1971, they moved to California and bought a home in the Santa Cruz Mountains community of Aldercroft Heights. It was there that they had two children, Paul and Amy, before divorcing in 1979. Rita and her cherished children were still living in their home when the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 damaged the structure, necessitating a rebuild from the ground up. Rita reveled in her new home which became a welcoming haven to many over the years, and the frequent base camp for her beloved grandchildren Dimitri, Andre and Anika, of Boulder Creek.
Rita’s effervescent personality and love of people resulted in ever-blossoming friendships, old and new. Whether meeting in the checkout line at Lunardi’s or in the aisles of Trader Joe’s, she was sure to become your friend. Her birthday was always an invitation to pack her home wall-to-wall with artists, authors, professors, hairdressers, tradesmen, tech experts, neighbors, etc. It didn’t matter your station in life, only that you were an interesting conversationalist and enjoyed a good party.
For the birthdays of her friends and loved ones, Rita delighted in making her famous glitter cards. Adorned with creative designs and vibrant colors, her cards always contained an accurate number of glitter candles on the cake – whether you were turning 5 or 95! Add to that Rita’s yearly slew of glitter Valentines, and her kitchen table was a permanent glitter station!
Rita was elegant, caring, and stunningly gorgeous. She loved to dance. She loved music, including the blues, rock and roll, and especially The Grateful Dead. She loved Burning Man, though unlike others she enjoyed it fully clothed (in fact, Burning Man was one of the rare occasions when she actually wore a bra!). She loved her 2004 orange Honda Element. She loved her black standard Poodle in the 70’s, and most recently her sweet companion dog Buji. She loved birds and loyally sustained them with multiple 40-pound bag of seeds monthly. She loved the gardens surrounding her home, particularly her collection of Salvias. Most of all, Rita loved her children and grandchildren, who were her greatest source of pride and joy. They will miss her dearly, as will we all.
Rita is survived by her sister Carol Cate, son Somesh (Paul) Lamendella, daughter Amy Lamendella and James Kovacs, grandchildren Dimitri Tsyrganovich Lamendella, Andre Tsyrganovich Lamendella, and Anika Tsyrganovich Lamendella, Fairy-God-Daughter Jessica Lamendella, Matt Harding and Mercy Harding, brother-in-law Bob Myers, nephew Rob Myers and family, niece Jenny Myers and family, and too many dear friends to mention, but you know who you are.
An end of life celebration will occur in the spring at a place that is yet to be determined. Please check back for details.