Rita Joan Millis peacefully left us on January 22. She said she wanted to go be with her husband. Rita was born in her grandparents' home in Hutsonville, IL on May 25, 1939, the oldest child of Bryce and Clara Green. They lived in Hutsonville for a short time, then Palestine, where Rita graduated from high school. Rita loved music and became proficient at many instruments, particularly the clarinet, piano and the organ, which she played for services at the Methodist Church. During her childhood, she met Dale Millis, who she at first decided was one to avoid owing to his own brand of good-natured mischief. However, in high school, he invited her to a youth activity at the Methodist Church and they started hanging out off and on. Dale went on to the University of Illinois and Rita to Eastern Illinois University. They saw each other increasingly and decided at a dance one night to get married the next weekend, March 18, 1960 in Charleston, IL, without telling their families. Their first home was the old family farm house which did not have an indoor bathroom at the time. Dale built a bathroom, but not in time to keep Rita, expecting her first child, Eric, from having to run through the snow to the outhouse that winter.
They stayed on the farm for two years and then began a journey that moved them to many places in Illinois, chasing Dale's employment. That included Jacksonville, where Becky was born, then Champaign, where they both got graduate degrees at the University of Illinois, Dale in agronomy and Rita in general music emphasizing piano performance. During this time, as they searched for a church to attend, they were contacted by missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and after some time chose to join. This proved to be a great blessing to them for the rest of their lives. Following their degrees, they moved to Carterville, then Vandalia, where Matt was born, then to Princeton, Hutchinson, KS, and Urbandale, IA where they took a break from moving for 31 years. Dale and Rita became very attached to that community and had many friends. In Urbandale, Rita overcame two bouts of cancer with Dale lovingly caring for her. They eventually moved to Stansbury Park, UT to be closer to family, then Meridian, ID and finally Bountiful, UT.
Throughout her life, Rita accomplished just about everything she ever set out to do and was able to balance that with raising her three children and keeping in contact with many friends and family. She loved to perform in choral groups and plays and played the violin in the Hutchinson, KS and Des Moines, IA orchestras. She was a prolific genealogist, who made thousands of pages of notes in her beautiful handwriting and submitted thousands of names for temple work. She also taught school and piano in almost every place they lived before moving to Utah.
The gospel of Jesus Christ was so important to Rita. She was a diligent learner and excellent teacher and made copious notes as she studied. Rita served in many callings, including organist, choir director, Relief Society president, Young Women president, family history center director, and assistant matron in the Winter Quarters Temple. Rita was always busy doing good things, but always seemed to have time to spend with family and friends. She made it all look so easy. Even late in life with her health declining, she still longed to do the things she had always done even though she was physically no longer able.
Rita was preceded in death by Dale, her husband of nearly 62 years, daughter Becky, sister Connie Schwartz and nephew Kyle Schwartz. She is survived by sons Eric (Lynn) and Matt (Lisa), nine grandchildren: Jamie (James) Ghormley, Brad (Aimee) Millis, Alyssa (Kendall) Nielson, Austin (Shannon) Millis, Jeff (Riley) Millis, Quentin (Rachel) Millis, Jake (Katie) Millis, Sam Millis and Will Millis and five great-grandchildren: Milo, Grant, Hugh, Indy and Clara; her brother Roger (Mary) Green and nieces Cendy (Frank) Luto, Cathy (Joel) Dragelin, Kara (Alan) Hibbs, Maria Schwartz and nephew Chris Schwartz.
On Saturday, February 4, following a viewing from 12:30 - 1:45 pm, a funeral service was held at 2:00 p.m. at Russon Mortuary, 295 N. Main Street, Bountiful, UT and was streamed live on Russon Mortuary & Crematory Facebook page.
Interment will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at Wesley Chapel Cemetery in Orange Township, Clark County, Illinois.
Thank you to all who blessed Rita's life with your friendship. A special thanks to the wonderful staff and friends at Creekside Senior Living and A-Plus Hospice and also to the caring leadership and friends at the Holbrook Creek Branch.
To view the full obituary, send a condolence message, light a candle or post photos, visit www.markwellfuneralhome.com. Greenwell Funeral Home, 30 N. Washington St., Martinsville, IL is assisting the family with the local arrangements.
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