On Tuesday, August 11, at 11:41 p.m., Rita Savannah, age 98, entered into eternal rest in the comfort of her home with her granddaughter Rachelle at her side, holding her hand. She was greeted at the gates of heaven by her husband, Dominick “Red” Savannah, who passed away January 2, 2010.
Rita was born in Argentine, PA on March 2, 1922. She was the daughter of the late Francesa Chiricosta Nocera and Domenick Nocera. As the last surviving matriarch of both the Savannah and Nocera families, Rita also joins her brothers and sisters in heaven. This includes Bruno Nocera, Jesse “Turk” Nocera, Pasquale “Pat” Nocera, Mary Albert and Leonard Nocera.
Rita worked at Castle Rubber Company and was a homemaker. She and Red were lifelong members of Saint Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church. She was a member of the 55 & Alive Club of St. Michael’s. Rita served at the Tuesday night community dinners as part of the St. Michael’s team. Father Harry Bielewicz nicknamed her “The Cheerio Lady” as she became the familiar face at the end of the food line handing out bags of Cheerios, always with a smile.
Rita is survived by two sons, Charles Savannah and his wife, Linda, of Butler, and Tom Savannah and his wife, Sheila, of Deale MD; four grandchildren, Rachelle (Scott) Haberberger, Chad (Christina) Savannah, Corey (Erica) Savannah, and Timmy Savannah; and six great-grandchildren, Arabella, Sophia, Luca, Lia, Gino and Marco. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
Rita was affectionately known as “Gram Rita” to many of her friends and family. She was known for making delicious pasta sauce and meatballs for which no written recipe existed; she cooked it from memory each time. Rita loved homemade haluski, which she enjoyed with her son Charles as her last meal the Saturday before she passed away. Rita enjoyed playing cards, reading, bingo, going to the casino and spending time with her friends and family. Rita and Red were always helping others. Even in the last few years, as her physical health declined, you would hear her say “Are you hungry?” as you walked through the door. You never left Rita’s house with an empty stomach.
Rita was able to stay in her own home the last few years of her life because of the amazing care she received from her dedicated family; the VNA Hospice team (Lori, Sue, Cass, Heather, Joanne and Janie); and her caregivers, Christina, Lois, Donna, Heather, Yvonne and Lisa. Rita taught others to take life “one day at a time” and to be thankful for who and what blessings they had in their lives. Her memory was amazing, as evidenced by the detailed stories she would tell. She frequently spoke about her younger years, including the death of her mother when she was nine years old; living in an orphanage; surviving the Great Depression; and the almost 60 years of marriage to the love of her life, Red.
Rita frequently would state, “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” Goal met, Gram Rita. Well done, good and faithful servant. Until we meet again, we will always carry your memory in our hearts.
There was no public visitation.
Private funeral services were held, and burial took place in St. Michael’s Cemetery.
Arrangements were entrusted to the care of Martin Funeral Home, Inc., 429 Center Avenue, Butler.