Rita Ann Hanson died March 17, 2019, in Layton, Utah, following a stroke.
Born Rita Ann Thomas on May 17, 1943, Rita -the oldest of four children —spent her early life on her parents’ small farm outside of Killdeer, North Dakota. Her mother taught at a one-room schoolhouse, where Rita developed an early love of learning and teaching.
After a summer living in Hawaii tending bar and living life to the fullest, Rita graduated from Dickinson State College and eventually moved to Great Falls, Montana, to teach school.
It’s there that she met then-Capt. David Hanson, whom she marriedin 1968.
Their life in the Air Force would take them to multiple states and to Saudi Arabia, trips made with three small children (and usually two cats) in tow.
Rita taught elementary school full-time until 1986, and continued teaching throughout her life, including as a reading tutor and as a Sunday school teacher in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Anyone ever taught by “Sister Hanson” will remember her beautifully colored, often laminated, lesson materials, games and handouts.
An avid collector of beautiful vintage items, Rita was herself a natural artist and writer.
She sent her abundant love into the world by sewing impeccable Halloween costumes; cross-stitching personalized keepsakes to commemorate births, marriages and big life events; cooking large quantities of her family’s favorite meals; writing letters with beautiful penmanship and carefully selected stickers; crafting puzzles and games for her children and grandchildren; and inventing stories to comfort (and sometimes terrify) small children.
She was happiest at family get-togethers, where she taught the card game Casino to multiple generations (then ruthlessly won every game) and stayed up late to laugh and talk.
She fiercely believed in education, eternal families and in standing up for yourself.
Rita’s sassy humor and loving nature lives on in her four children: Doug (Heidi) Hanson, of New Hampshire; Jeff (Melissa) Hanson, of California; Holly (Henry) Munoz of Texas; and Rachel (Matthew) Piper of Wisconsin. She is also survived by David L. Hanson, her husband of 50 years; three brothers — Neil Thomas and Brent Thomas, both of North Dakota, and Dean (Steven) Thomas, of Chicago. She was also “Grammie” to 10 grandchildren.
A viewing will be held Thursday, March 21, from 6-8 p.m. at Lindquist Mortuary in Layton. A memorial service will be held Friday, March 22, at 11 a.m., also at Lindquist.