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On Monday, July 29th, Rita Anne (McCracken) Jones was called Home to a glorious reunion with her daughter Ruth, grandsons Cody and Casey, mother Genevieve, father Tom, and many other family and friends.
If you knew Rita, you thought you KNEW Rita! Outspoken like none other – a real black and white, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth type of person! Yet, once you got to really KNOW Rita, you realized she cared deeply and would do anything for anyone. She was a pie maker extraordinaire; making pies out of berries many people today have never even heard of! Serviceberry? Gooseberry? These were all part of her pie menu. If you preferred your pies a bit on the tart side, once you had a Rita Pie that is the only type of pie you wanted. Rita was a master seamstress sewing many beautiful garments throughout the years as well as providing alterations to wedding dresses, prom dresses, AND much to her family’s delight – patching jeans!! She generously shared these gifts through her leadership and children’s involvement with the South Marias Mixers 4-H Club. Her cooking and sewing skills were constantly sought out at the Marias Fair for judging. In later years, Rita took up the hobby of crocheting and created lovely afghans for children, grandchildren, family and friends to celebrate a significant life event!
Perhaps, Rita’s greatest quality was being the truest example of a partner in a marriage. She and Tom Jones were married on November 24, 1956 at St. Michael’s Church in Conrad. They were working on year 63 at the time of her passing. It was rare to see Tom and Rita apart from one another. Their love of each other and of the Lord has provided an example for all of us to emulate. Rita and Tom could be seen praying at the kitchen table before breakfast every morning.
Rita was born on January 12, 1938 in Conrad at St. Mary’s Hospital. She attended Higgins country grade school in the Ledger area and graduated from Conrad High School in 1955 after surviving a horrific car accident with her brother Gary. It was during her later high school years that Rita met Tom who’d come to the farm and ranch on a visit with Rita’s brother Bruce while attending Montana State University in Bozeman. Rita then attended MSU and the rest is history as it’s often said!
Tom and Rita traveled with his military duties in their early married years, eventually settling on the family farm and ranch in Ledger, Montana. It was here they raised their five children, Deb, Clark, Paul, Ruth, and Mack and welcomed many grandchildren and great grandchildren into their fold. While living in Ledger, Rita was a member of the Women of the Moose Chapter 466 in Conrad. She was also a member of the PondeToole Home Demonstration Club that eventually became the PondeToole Extension Homemaker’s Club. Her children remember riding their bikes home from country school when there was a Homemaker’s Club meeting going on in hopes that those delicious cream puffs would be served. BUT, the kids would have to wait and eat them outside if the meeting was still going on! Rita was actively involved in events at St. Michael’s Catholic Church. It was a true blessing that Rita and her Mom, Gen, participated together in many of these outings. St. Michael’s Catholic Church is where Rita received the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist, Confirmation, and Marriage.
In 1994, Tom and Rita moved to Polson building their life long dream home on Flathead Lake. They moved back to Ledger in 2016 just in time to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary.
Vigil Service will be held on Monday, August 5th at 7:00 p.m. Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, August 6th at 11:00 a.m. Both services will be held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Conrad. Rite of Committal will follow at Hillside Cemetery in Conrad. A luncheon will then be held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents, Tom and Genevieve McCracken, daughter, Ruth, grandsons Cody and Casey, siblings Bruce, Gary, Joan, mother-in-law Marion Nelson, as well as many other family members and friends. She is survived by her dear husband, Tom; children and spouses Deb (Tom), Clark (Tammy), Paul (Cathy), Kim Hood (Ruth’s spouse), and Mack (Lori); grandchildren Tyler (Crystal), Gen (Jon), Sheridan (Tara), Cortni, Justin (Ariel), Dusty (Lyndee), Charmolita (Josh), Pablo (Lindsay), Katie, Philip (Darla), Taylor (Corissa), Jaynee, and Gavin; great grandchildren Rhett, Asher, Brooke, Tommy, Rowen, Ryken, Rylee, Jayda, Jaxon, Kashden, and one on the way in October; and sister Ellen (George) Nelson.
Memorials in Rita’s honor are suggested to (please put Rita Jones in memo line);
Conrad Moose Lodge
P.O. Box 560
Conrad, MT 59425
St. Michael’s Catholic Church
P.O. Box 577
Conrad, MT 59425
May be specified to Kitchen, Maintenance, Religious Education, or left to church’s discretion.
P.O. Box 787
Conrad, MT 59425
Holy Spirit Radio Station
P.O. Box 6116
Great Falls, MT 59406
One last thing – Tom and Rita’s favorite place to eat was at the El Comedor in Great Falls. She always ordered 1 fluffy taco and 1 chili relleno (pronouncing the “L” to share with Tom). Next time you’re there, order in her honor and share that chili relleno (“L").