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Rita Nelson of Stephen passed into the Lord's realm on July 9, 2023, at North Star Manor in Warren, Minnesota.
Much loved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and loyal friend to many, Rita was a fierce protector of her family and friends. To those who were fortunate enough to know and love her, she was a powerful, larger-than-life presence and a woman of strong principles, tremendous wit and great intellect. Never one to hesitate to speak her mind or voice her opinion, it was hard to be ambivalent about Rita. She was direct and to the point, with valuable advice and wisdom such as, "only two ways money works: spend less or make more." She was hardworking and lead by example.
Rita was descended from some of Stephen's earliest pioneers:
She was the granddaughter of Pierce Sinnott who came to Stephen in 1878 from Ireland and settled in what is now Sinnott Township, named after him and his wife, Catherine Hughes Sinnott.
She was the great-granddaughter of John Hughes, who helped establish Tamarac Township, organized the first school district in Marshall County (in 1878) and served on its school board. He was appointed the first postmaster in 1879; opened the first business in Stephen, a drug store; was a justice of the peace for 20 years; and whose home was the early meeting place for what would later become St. Stephen's Catholic Church.
She was the grandniece of Mary Ann Hughes, Marshall County's first schoolteacher.
Rita June McGlynn was born on June 21, 1926, to Clark and Florence (Sinnott) McGlynn on the original McGlynn homestead in Parker Township, Marshall County. She was baptized and confirmed at St. Joseph's Catholic Red River Mission Church in Fork Township.
Rita was the oldest of six children. She experienced the Great Depression and the "dirty thirties" as a child. She grew up working on the farm with her dad and brothers. She became very familiar with the blessings of hard work and family and these became the foundation upon which she raised her own family.
Rita attended District No. 77 McGlynn School, where she graduated from eighth grade. In 1945 she graduated from Stephen High School. Following in the footsteps of her mother, she was the organist at St. Joseph's Catholic Red River Mission for several years.
In 1946, she married Lawrence Nelson at St. Joseph's Catholic Red River Mission. They were blessed with seven children who learned the meaning of a strong work ethic and family unity as they endured the challenges of working on the farm. They embraced the love and support of family. Their farm home was welcoming to visitors who stopped by and there was always room to join the family around the table. Neighborhood kids enjoyed baseball games in the pasture all summer long.
Rita and Lawrence bought the original McGlynn homestead in Parker Township from her parents and it became a Minnesota Century Farm in 1998 after having been continuously in the McGlynn family for over 100 years. They farmed in Fork Township and Parker Township until she lost Lawrence to cancer in 1967.
After Lawrence's death, she endured the trials and tribulations of raising her seven children: their learning to drive, homework, finding part-time jobs, sports, graduations, dating, college days, marriages, and careers. She took her challenges all in stride, faced them with bravery, and raised a wonderful family!
In 1974, after waitressing for several years, she began employment as a part time relief clerk at the Stephen Post Office. From there she moved into the post office proper and served until a substitute position came open on a rural route. The last six years of her employment she served as Stephen's first female rural carrier, driving rural route 2 which had been served by Chauncey Benson. She retired in 1988 after 14 years of service.
Rita was a member of St. Stephen's Catholic Church, American Legion Auxiliary 390, VFW Auxiliary 3828, Retired Rural Carriers Association & Auxiliary and the Stephen Bridge Club, where she served as treasurer for many years.
Rita's glass was always more than half full. She was proud of her Irish heritage and accepted each of life's challenges and moved on, certain that things would get better. No obstacle seemed permanent to her. An avid shopper, she loved flowers, travel, and was always up for a trip to the casino or a good game of pinochle or bridge.
She is survived by one daughter, Diane Nelson of Fort Collins CO; five sons and their wives: Allan & Mary (Rasmussen) Nelson of Fort Collins CO, Daryl & Cathy (Carl) Nelson of Fort Collins CO; Ron & Carol (Ruebsamen) Nelson of Pace FL; Roger & Georgie (Scheving) Nelson and Leslie Nelson all of Stephen; daughter-in-law Bonnie (Morinaga) Nelson of Spring TX, and sister, Rosemary Schiller of Argyle MN. She is also survived by 18 grandchildren: Kari, Steve, David, Kelly, Ryan, Lance, Jake, Lawrence, Avery, Wade, Amber, Ashley, Brent, Bryce, Kally, Kathryn, Braden & Blake; as well as 16 great-grandchildren: Kiley, Nathan, Sarah, Caleb, Gavin, Beckett, Whitten, Violette, Aiden, Alexander, Addison, Helen, Henry, Walter, Jack and Cole. She is also survived by numerous brothers- and sisters-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents; husband Lawrence; son James; brothers Dan, Gene, Tom and Clark McGlynn, Jr.
MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: 10:30 AM on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Stephen, MN.
VISITATION: After 5:30 PM with a 6:30 Prayer Service on Monday, July 17, 2023 at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Stephen and also one hour before services on Tuesday.
INTERMENT: She will be laid to rest next to her husband in St. Stephen's Catholic Cemetery, Stephen MN.
MEMORIALS PREFERRED TO: St. Stephen Catholic Church or Hospice of the Red River Valley