Rita A. Ryan

Rita Alice Ryan

March 12, 1933 – October 2, 2022

Rita Alice Ryan was preceded in death by siblings: Mary Maurice; Jack Ryan; Sr. Lorretta Ryan; and Phyllis Lueninghoener.  She is survived by Theresa Shearman (Tom); Bernie Culver (Mike); Ann Peterson (George); Frank Ryan; Bill Ryan (Sheryl); many nieces and nephews, grand nieces and nephews; and one great grand niece.

Rita was born to William and Helen Ryan of Corning, Iowa.  She grew up on the family farm and lovingly helped care for her 9 brothers and sisters.  Her family was her absolute pride and joy.  With 9 siblings, 19 nieces and nephews, 16 grand nieces and nephews, and one great-grand niece.   Rita kept very busy by making special treats, sewing clothes for kids and dolls, attending school holiday programs, and always being a phone call away to congratulate or support any situation that may come up.  When Rita was not doting on her family, she was busy checking out books at the library, attending daily mass, or serving dinner at the Stephen’s Center.

Rita attended Nurses’ Training through Creighton University at Saint Joseph’s Hospital.  She moved to New York and worked at Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Welfare Island in the polio ward.  She tried to move back home, but the hospital knew and appreciated Rita’s value, so they offered her the Head Nurse position to stay.

She continued working there until she eventually moved to Omaha.  When she came back from New York, she used all of the skills and knowledge she gained as Head Nurse at Goldwater to help start and head the first Polio Ward at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  Even after the closure of the polio ward, Rita would still get called at any hour of the day to help support with a question or problem related to the iron lungs.  Rita would go out of her way to ensure that each and everyone of her patients was happy and well cared for.  This meant running across town to get a child out to see their first rainbow, taking a patient out to dinner with a group of nurses so they could feel some sense of normalcy, or taking some home with her to spend time away from the hospital and get individualized attention.

She worked at  St. Joseph’s Hospital as the Head Nurse for the Osteoporosis Research Unit funded through Creighton starting in 1964.  Although she tried to retire many times, she kept being asked back for one more study, until her final retirement in 2008.

Rita’s life will be celebrated on October 25th starting with a visitation at St. Thomas More Catholic Church (4804 Grover Street) starting at 9:00 a.m., followed by rosary at 10:00 a.m.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30am.  A burial at Calvary Cemetery will follow the funeral.  Everyone is welcome to join a luncheon after at Heafey, Hoffman, Dworak, and Cutler.

In lieu of flowers, Rita requested memorial donations to St. Thomas More Endowment, Autism Action Partnership, or the Stephen Center.


  • Therese Wolfe Posted October 12, 2022 8:46 pm

    Rita was a nurturer, kind , compassionate and supportive to anyone in need. She always had a smile and kind words. Condolences to the Ryan family on your loss. 💔

    • bernie culver Posted November 4, 2022 8:43 am

      thank you Therese!

  • Chris peterson Posted October 12, 2022 11:42 pm

    I love you aunt rita

  • Fr. Jim Clifton, SJ Posted October 20, 2022 6:52 am

    Rita lived her faith in everything she did; it was inseparable from who she was. To know her was to have a wonderful glimpse of Christ. She was one of the “tradition bearers” who made St. Joseph Hospital such a truly special place. Well done, good and faithful servant!

  • Karen Bopp, Tyler, Nara, Kathleen Gump, and Family Posted October 20, 2022 11:43 am

    Even with her extensive extended family, Rita was such a part of our family as well. She was there whenever we needed her. So many memories of cookies, casseroles, and caretaking. And, I’m pretty sure she was one of the few people brave enough to babysit us 6 Bopp kids more than once!We are forever grateful for her helping out with our dad in his final days. We will always remember Rita’s generosity and infinite acts of kindness: )

  • Maureen Bausch Posted October 22, 2022 6:50 pm

    Rita was my mentor as a teen-age nurse aide at St Joseph Polio Ward in the 1960’s. I will never forget how she guided me skillfully with my first patient death. How I treasure her bright, engaging smile every time she saw me.

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