Rita Rose (Welna) Howell
Apr 15, 1926 – Apr 11, 2017
Preceded in death by loving husband of 57 years, Maurice A. Howell (also on April 11, twelve years prior); parents, Rose A. (Pleskac) and Stanley F. Welna; sister, Mary Jane Forman (Frank); son-in-law, Fred Petersen; great-grandchildren, Hannah Howell and Peter Flynn. Survived by children: Karen Sutton of Santa Clarita, CA, John (Mary Beth) and Robert (Theresa) both of Omaha, Susan Petersen of Columbus, NE, Mike (Laura) of Omaha, and Tim (Nikki) of Gretna; 14 grandchildren: Lindsey (Sutton) Lehman (Glenn) of Camarillo, CA and Danny Sutton (Chrissy) of Santa Clarita, CA; Heather Howell of Omaha, Trisha Howell of Kansas City, MO and Jennifer Howell of Omaha; Rob Howell (Crystal) of Omaha, Scott Howell (Andrea) of Lincoln, NE, Kari (Howell) Flynn (Danny) of Bowie, MD and Joe Howell (Karen) of Omaha; Bill Petersen (Amy) of Schuyler, NE, Bob Petersen of McCook, NE and Ben Petersen (Stacey) of Fremont, NE; Michaelia (Howell) Wagner-Dunlap (Brad) of Sunrise, FL; Zach Howell of Gretna; 37 great-grandchildren; 3 nieces and 4 nephews; many friends and family.
The family will receive friends Monday, April 17th from 6pm to 7pm, with VIGIL SERVICE at 7pm at the Bel Air Chapel, 12100 W. Center Rd. MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL Tuesday, April 18th at 10am, St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church, 11802 Pacific. Interment, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials will be directed by the family.
Rita Rose Howell was born on April 15, 1926 in Omaha, Nebraska, the second of two children of Stanley Frank and Rose Agnes (Pleskač) Welna. She grew up on 14th and Center Streets in one of Omaha’s ethnic Czech neighborhoods, in the same house where her mother, Rose grew up – along with her mother’s immigrant grandparents, Frank and Marie (Šimon) Pleskač.
As a child, she attended St. Wenceslaus grade school, helped care for her elderly grandparents, and became best friends with her older sister, Mary Jane. Together they enjoyed growing up with their numerous cousins, sitting on the front porch singing, and experiencing their Czech customs such as learning to speak the language, having roast duck and dumplings for holidays, and eating Kolaches baked every Saturday by their Mom and/or “Bubbi” (grandma).
Rita graduated from South High School in 1944. After a brief period of business school (and of course socializing in a business sorority) she began working at Cudahy Packing Co. in the office. It was at Cudahy’s that she was introduced to her future husband, “Maurie” Howell, by a mutual office friend, Jim Schiltz. They married in 1948 and honeymooned in New Orleans for Mardi-Gras and toured the Florida coasts, visiting Maurie’s sister’s family. Together they raised their young family in Cathedral parish, in the house on 42nd street in which Maurie grew up, along with Maurie’s widowed and blind mother, Mary Howell. Maurie would work at Cudahy’s until his retirement in 1986 and Rita transitioned to a fulltime wife, mother and homemaker for their six children. She was an active member of St. Cecilia’s parish and filled volunteer roles with her children’s schools, Cub Scouts, Brownies/Girl Scouts, etc. In 1971, the family moved “way out” to 120th & Woolworth Streets – joining St. Robert Bellarmine Parish only 5 years after its founding.
Reading, sewing and gardening were some of Rita’s favorite interests, along with preserving her family history with photo albums, artifacts, and mementos.
She became an excellent cook and enjoyed trying and sharing new recipes. She loved hosting and bringing the family together for birthdays, Easter and Christmas dinners. She quickly became an active member of St. Robert’s, involved in Ladies’ Guild, Legion of Mary, Grand Friends and Rosary-Making Group. For over 20 years Rita cared for the holy water fonts at church, watered all the flowers, and “tidied-up” before weddings. “Grandma Howell” kept a keen interest in all of her grandchildren and would frequently play games with them on their grandma visits. She truly loved them all dearly.
In her early 60s, inspired by her sister, she began to deepen her love for her Catholic Faith. Over the next 30 years she began attending daily Mass (with Maurie), joined several prayer groups, spent hours in her “prayer room” reading faith-inspiring books and praying her rosary, going on pilgrimages, watching EWTN and showering her children with inspirational articles on how to know, grow, and enrich their Faith. Sadly, over her last 10 years, she slowly succumbed to the mental ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. However, through it all, she remained joyful, kind, gentle and loving – always expressing gratitude to those who visited her. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her, especially her family.