Rita M. Paproski
Longtime gorgeous and vivacious proprietor of RITA’S PLACE in Benson. Preceded in death by parents, Ernest and Julia Barker; son, Russell Paproski.
Survived by children, Laura Grothe (Sue), Scott Paproski, Michelle Hankenson (Glenn), and Melinda Paproski (Brian); beloved grandchildren (seven) and great-grandchildren (twelve); sister, Ernestine Murray (Jim); brother, Ernest Barker; nieces and nephews; friends; and her spoiled rotten cat, Sissy.
VISITATION begins Friday, May 27th at 11am at the West Center Chapel, followed by CELEBRATION OF LIFE at noon followed by a luncheon. Hope you can be there to raise a toast to Rita and share a memory.
Memorials are suggested to the Nebraska Humane Society. To view a live broadcast of the Celebration of Life, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button on the home page.
Rita Paproski was born in Omaha to Ernest and Julia Barker. They moved to California, where at the age of 6, Rita lost center stage with the arrival of twins, Ernest and Ernestine whom she loved dearly. They were “her babies.” The family returned to Omaha where Rita graduated from Technical High School in 1953.
Rita married and was blessed with five kids by the time she was 29. To keep her sanity, she worked various jobs until opening the Homestead Cafe in South Omaha. Rita always enjoyed cooking for her family and friends. It was her way to nurture and show love. And she was a great cook! She taught us the importance of cooking with wine, or beer, or occasionally scotch. Sometimes she even put it in the food she was making!
Rita was a doer in life. She loved bowling and started junior bowling leagues at the Vinton Bowl in the 1960s. Merritt’s Beach swim outings and picnics which included all the neighborhood kids were a regular part of life along with big holiday dinners, frequent camping, and fishing trips, or just a Sunday drive in the country.
In the late 70s Rita opened a tavern in Benson and of course called it “Rita’s Place.” She served great food, cold beers, football pools, scratch offs, karaoke, live music (Rita loved to sing!) and good times to her patrons who came from all walks of life. People always felt welcome in Rita’s because they were. Rita truly loved people! As one person put it “there were no strangers at Rita’s Place” which also meant that you occasionally received a piece of Rita’s mind or a chastising about something you needed straightening out on!
Rita was a lifelong smoker who looked damn good doing it. In 2005 she was diagnosed with mouth cancer. Much to everyone’s amazement she quit smoking and beat it. In 2014, Rita had a stroke which robbed her of the ability to speak and use her right side. Doctors advised the family that she would not be able to return to her home. Rita would have none of that #!#! and proved them wrong. She determinedly worked with the physical, speech, and occupational therapists at Methodist to learn to speak, eat, write, and walk again. Thanks to them and Rita’s stubbornness she lived the remainder of her days in her home with her cat Sissy.
Rita enjoyed working in her yard and spending time with family, especially her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She loved feeding the birds and was delighted when a raccoon or opossum would come enjoy her offerings. She loved her cat Sissy and would spoil her rotten. Watching Jeopardy was a daily ritual and if you made the mistake of calling during the show Rita would quickly answer and say, “Jeopardy’s on” and hang up on you! Doing crossword puzzles remained a regular activity of Rita’s even after her stroke, when she had to painstakingly write with her left hand.
Rita loved life and found happiness in small things. She had many setbacks, illnesses and pain during her later years, but she had such a will to live to see her grandkids grow that she fought fearlessly. We will miss her immensely, especially her frequent refrain of “Oh I love you.”
Rita is an anatomical donor to Creighton University Medical School (not UNMC because they don’t have any pull with God she said.)