Sharon Rose Rathbun
April 7, 1949 – February 18, 2023
VISITATION: Friday, February 24th, 10am, followed by a CELEBRATION OF LIFE at 11am at West Center Chapel. To view a live broadcast of the service, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.
GRAVESIDE SERVICE: 12pm at Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park, 5701 Center St.
Memorial Donations may be directed toward Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler or the family for funeral costs and future designation.
Sharon Rose Rathbun, age 73, of Papillion, NE, went to be with her Savior on Saturday, February 18, 2023. She was surrounded by her mother, all five of her children, and her siblings at Immanuel Hospital in Omaha, NE.
She was born on April 7, 1949, in Omaha, NE, to Earl Jr. and Thelma (Chrisman) Rice.
Sharon grew up as one of six siblings in Omaha and graduated from Burke High School in 1967. She continued her education between 1968 – 1971 at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, IA, where she enjoyed studying and using her beautiful soprano voice. She traveled with the Choralaires, a vocal musical group that promoted the school by presenting nightly concerts in churches and camps. FBBC is where she met and married her former spouse, John Rathbun, in 1972. They had five children and lived in Colorado, Ohio, and Texas, eventually settling in Omaha, NE.
Sharon worked several jobs over her lifetime. As a newlywed, she was a data clerk in Des Moines, IA. She then worked as a bank clerk in Medina, OH. In Texas, she was an elementary school teacher at a Christian school and went on to homeschool her own children after moving to Omaha. Once her children were grown, she pursued her passion for teaching ESL to elementary children. She also found herself working among the plants and gifts at Mulhalls Garden & Gift Store in Omaha, where she showcased her love of plants, nature, and beautiful things.
In the most recent years, Sharon became an artist and created her own brand called Winship and Rose. Winship was the name of her Great-Great Grandfather. Her choice of a business name gave a glimpse of her passion for ancestry and how much she valued family. Rose was her middle name, shared by a beloved granddaughter, Avery Rose.
Sharon’s artwork was intricate, detailed, and full of mosaic-type lines, curves, patterns, and colors that gave evidence of the unique way she saw and experienced the world. She valued beauty, nature, and whimsy. The lines in her art mimicked the connections she made with people through relationships.
Sharon often went by “Sheri” (or “Sheri Babe” to her 94-year-old mother) and describes herself in her own words, taken from her Facebook profile:
“…I am very inquisitive, adventurous, and enjoy learning. I have a great sense of humor and can be ornery at times. I love to laugh.”
Yes, she could be ornery and passed that trait on to all 5 of her children, for which they say “thank goodness” and wear her orneriness with pride. Her nurses called her “feisty,” and in her final days, her stubborn strength was a great gift to those at her bedside. She balanced and softened her feistiness by calling everyone ‘hun.’ She drew others toward her by being genuinely concerned for their well-being and openly revealed her sweet, gentle soul. Her friends describe her as someone they could talk to about anything without fear of judgment. Her children were in awe at her ability to have close relationships with all five of them without ever talking negatively about any of them to the other or ever breaking confidence. She was unwavering in her support as a mother and a precious gift to them.
She fiercely loved her children and grandchildren and was very proud of them. This is something they heard over and over from their mom’s friends and family in the recent days since her passing. She had a tender love for them and could not get enough time with them. She pursued them without guilt, with many “just thinking about you” texts that always had a signature frog, butterfly, or mushroom emoji, again showing her whimsical, almost child-like outlook on life. She was deeply invested in her kids and grandkids, and she knew they were her legacy.
Sharon grew up knowing and loving Jesus. She was authentic with her faith and knew Jesus loved her with an unconditional type of love. Her children found her Bible among her belongings in her home, and it was the same one they remember her reading when they were young. The brown leather was worn around the edges from use. She loved the Word of God (especially the Psalms), where she found much comfort on hard days.
Sharon will be lovingly remembered by her children, Julie (Terry) Jansen; Amy (Todd) Bowman; Tim Rathbun; Kathy Rathbun; Laurie (Stephen) Cosgrove; grandchildren: Ethan Jansen; Emily Jansen; Eli Jansen; Teagan (Lucas) Zelnio; Colsie (Vance) Doeden; Avery Bowman; Cadence James-Rathbun; Micah Cosgrove; Ari Cosgrove; Simon Cosgrove; mother, Thelma Rice; brothers and sisters: Susi (Bruce) Osmanson; Skip (Raquel) Rice; Sally (Bill) Wallin; John (Linda) Rice; Jim Rice & Sister-in-Love, Diana Rice.
Sharon had numerous nieces and nephews, relatives, and friends. She will also be dearly missed by her friends at Trinity Courtyard and Monarch Villas in Papillion, NE.
She was preceded in death by her beloved father, Earl Rice Jr, and grandparents, Earl Sr. and Jewel Rice.
The family is so very grateful for your love, prayers, encouragement, support, and love during this time. They wish to send an extra-special thank you to the staff at Immanuel Intensive Care Unit for their care and compassion, with an exclamation toward Dr. W, whose intuition, wisdom, compassion, and communication were priceless gifts to Sharon’s family.
We also would like to thank Bill Cutler Sr. of Heafey Hoffmann Dworak Cutler for his time, invaluable direction, and doing what he was created to do so that we (and so many others) may benefit from his kindness.