Rita M. Honz

Rita M. Honz

May 26, 1932 – April 5, 2022

Rita was a generous, kind lady who made friends easily wherever she went.  She cherished time with family and friends, and always had a twinkle in her eye.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Donald G. Honz, and daughter, Nancy Honz.  She is survived by children: Jim Honz (Terri), Patty Gaston (Jim), Dave Honz (Carri), Bob Honz (Lisa), and Angie Wengler; 14 grandchildren; 8 great-grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews.

VISITATION: Thursday, April 7th from 5pm to 7pm at the West Center Chapel.  MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Friday, April 8th at 10:30am, St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, 15353 Pacific St.  Interment: Calvary Cemetery.  Memorials are suggested to St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, or St. Patrick Catholic Church in Neola, Iowa.

To view a live broadcast of the Mass, please go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.


Rita was born on May 26, 1932 in Neola, Iowa, one of seven siblings. Her parents, Caroline and Fred raised their brood on the family farm.

Rita once wrote out “some things that I remember fondly from those old days….Swinging in the mulberry tree especially when the mulberries were ripe, having store-bought bread when the neighbors were helping put up hay, walking down to the creek after a big rain to see if the water was over the bridge and having the soft mud squishing between my toes. I hated to gather eggs as there was an old hen that didn’t want me there. I had a great childhood and wouldn’t trade it for anything.” Being the youngest, Rita was close to her siblings as well as her nieces and nephews, many of whom were near her own age.

Rita shared that since there was no furnace upstairs, her kind mom would wrap a stove lid from the old cookstove in newspapers and put in in her bed to warm her toes. Rita attended Spring Valley for k-4, and while she usually walked to school, she would sometimes be allowed to ride her horse. She loved to tell the story how while she was in school her childhood buddy would ‘borrow’ her horse and ride it during the day. It took a while for Rita to figure out why her horse would be tired at the end of the school day after just standing there.

Rita attended St Joseph High School in Neola and played basketball. She loved basketball her whole life; she watched some of her children play, and enjoyed March Madness immensely. Her brackets would occasionally be the winner, especially since she sometimes filled them out in pencil.  Rita thoroughly enjoyed Neola’s annual ‘Hoo Doo Days’, with carnival and parade. After her short stint at college, Rita had her first job at Welborn’s Café in Neola for $.35 an hour. She went on to work for the USDA in Council Bluffs.

On March 17, 1955 at the Neola St Patrick’s dance, Rita was introduced to Don Honz by Mick Denning. Don had just finished four years in the Navy and was working at Sol Lewis. In July 1955, Rita and two girlfriends moved to California, however, she got homesick and returned home. She still had the letters that her honey, Don, wrote to her while there.

Rita and Don married on May 19, 1957, thus beginning a beautiful love story. They adored their 6 children and their spouses, and their many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Her great-grands would call her GGR for great-grandma-Rita.

Don and Rita raised their family to have fun and be adventurous. Many weekends were spent camping at Lakeland, with dirt bike riding, swimming, fishing, and having good outdoor fun. It was always special on the way to Lakeland—Rita would let the kids pick out a junk food at the store on the way.

Holidays were family time – spent with the Wellmans and Honzes, and then with Rita and Don’s own growing family. Rita always made holidays special – the kids would come home to decorated cookies or cakes for Valentine’s Day, birthdays, etc. Christmas was spectacular with the tinseled tree, and a gift for each of them. In the early years, on Christmas Eve the kids were treated with soda, frozen pizza, and oyster stew.

Rita was very involved in her kids’ lives – attending every event possible and cheering on activities. She also supported them through adulthood with her loving way. When something important in their lives happened, Rita typically got the first phone call to share the joy. She was caring and kind, and always up for something fun to do.

She enjoyed playing cards with friends and family – it was a great way for her competitive spirit to shine through and have fun at the same time. Her eyes would twinkle when she played the winning card. Many family events would include a rousing game of pitch or Hucklebuck with Rita on the winning team. Rita also had a passion for sewing and making and giving away quilts. Her creativity came through with her caring and beautiful designs. Rita wanted to make sure we had something to remember her by and be wrapped in her love.

Rita always welcomed her children’s friends into her home. She made everyone feel comfortable and happy. She always offered food and drinks, and wanted people to stick around. The Honz home was a gathering place for the neighborhood kids. For many years she enjoyed having an in-home daycare; she adored children and stayed in touch with those she cared for. Rita also made wedding cakes. One April 1st Dave spilled Kool-aid on a decorated cake tier in the basement, but Rita thought it was an April fool’s joke.

The grandkids loved spending time with Grandma Rita. She loved the babies and taking the kids to the zoo! Rita and Don had a very faith filled life.   They enjoyed praying the rosary together at the end of each day.   They relied on their faith to get them through tough times and gave thanks for the good times.

Rita’s family and friends loved gathering at her and Don’s large old house on 32nd Ave. In 2014, after Don’s passing and the house became too much to keep up, Rita moved to a retirement community where she met new friends and loved being involved in activities. As with her whole life, she made an impact on those around her. Her loved ones continued visiting her and playing cards till the end. She passed away peacefully with loved ones close by on April 5, 2022.


  • JoAnn Herdzina Bozak& John Posted April 6, 2022 1:47 pm

    We’ve know Rita for decades, being neighbors. She was very personable and nice.
    Condolences to her wonderful family.

  • William A Feldman Posted April 6, 2022 6:07 pm

    We are very sorry to hear of Rita’s passing. May God’s grace, mercy and peace be with her family at this difficult time. Bill & Connie Feldman

  • Fritzi and Kevon Christiansen Posted April 6, 2022 6:49 pm

    There’s no one besides my own parents that I hold so dearly. Rita always had time for us. She always was interested in our children and grandchildren. I think of the time Diane and I would pop in on her with our rowdy bunch. She always welcomed us with open arms. Heaven is a lucky place today. They’ve added a special angel to their midst. Although, a little mischief might e possible.Love to all her kids, grandkids and great grandkids.. She loved with all her heart.

  • Barb & Bill Anderson Posted April 7, 2022 8:23 am

    We lived on 32nd Avenue near the Honz family for many years, and enjoyed knowing Rita, who was such a lovely woman and friendly neighbor. Every Sunday while their children were still at home, they would walk together past our house on the way to mass at Our Lady of Lourdes, Rita and Don so tall and straight striding along with the kids running ahead or following behind….it is a happy memory. Rest in peace, Rita..

  • Raul, Amy, and Emily Gamboa Posted April 8, 2022 10:32 am

    Sending our thoughts and prayers to the Honz family as they mourn the loss of Rita.

  • jo momsen Posted April 8, 2022 11:46 am

    I had the pleasure to work with Rita for many years after Nebraska Game & Parks moved into the tourism building. Rita always greeted the travelers with such kindness and enthusiasm. Rita would bring the beautiful quilts she was working for family members to work and show us her intricate handiwork. I vividly remember her telling me the story of riding her horse to school, she recited it with such vigor! I was blessed to be able to lunch with her and some other Game & Parks and tourism staff when she was living at the retirement community and true to form Rita hosted a memorable lunch. I last visited Rita when she was across the hall from my mother in mid January and I truly cherished every moment. I will miss her deeply^j^

  • Joan Gaul Posted April 8, 2022 7:58 pm

    To the family of Rita Honz, we were sorry to hear of Rita’s passing. She was such a happy person with a beautiful smile. We loved chatting with her at the Nebraska Visitors Center in Omaha. We are sure that she helped hundreds of visitors to experience great trips in the state of Nebraska! May she now rest in peace. Love, Bob and Joan (Feldman) Gaul Johnston, Iowa

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