Rita Mary (Phillips) Waletski, loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt passed away peacefully at home on November 10, 2023. She was born on March 22, 1941 to Ted and Helen Phillips and raised on the family’s mink farm in Sartell. Rita graduated from St. Cloud Cathedral High School in 1959, then earned a degree in medical technology from St. Benedict’s College, St. Joseph. She completed a one year internship at St. Cloud Hospital and in 1962 she became a certified Medical Technologist. During this time Rita met Jim and married in 1962.
Her first job was at St Joseph’s Hospital in Mankato. She worked for 2 years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and 22 years at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. As a second career she worked as a Special Education teacher’s aide for ten years with the Minnetonka Public Schools.
Rita was an avid tennis player starting in 8th grade and never put her racquet down. A highlight was when she played in the National Senior tennis tournament in Mobile, AL. She continued to play with different Twin Cities tennis groups until July 2023.
An over the road biker, Rita and family enjoyed many bike trips including a 1,000 mile trip from Hays, KS to Chanhassen. The year she retired Rita and Jim biked from the Iowa border to the Canadian border. She enjoyed many 500-mile bike trips with family and friends.
She loved downhill and cross-country skiing. There were memorable ski trips with the family and the Chaska High School Ski Club to ski the mountains of Montana, Colorado and Utah.
Rita enjoyed traveling with her husband. In 1987 and 1988 they each took a half-year leave from their jobs to tour in their converted van visiting 49 states and 12 countries.
In the 1980’s Rita discovered another life passion, quilting. She made over one hundred quilts, gifting her beautiful artistic creations to family and friends. Recently she enjoyed making quilts for the homeless with the Mt. Calvary Quilters group.
For 50 years she tended the “best little garden in Minnesota”. She always said, “her garden had seven stages of blooming flowers, starting with the crocuses and daffodils and ending with the Kentucky asters.”
Rita is survived by her husband Jim of 61 years, loving sons Eric (Ellen), Greg (Joseph), grandchildren Alex and Emily, siblings Mary Jane Kilby (Bill), Judy Phillips-Ranney (Cecil), Mike (Lynette), sister-in-law Anita, and many wonderful nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by her parents, Ted and Helen Philips, and brothers John and James.
A Celebration of Life will be held on 11/22/2023 at St. Hubert’s Catholic Parish, 8201 Main Street, Chanhassen, where they have been active members since 1967. Visitation 10:00, Mass 11:00 with lunch to follow, and burial at St. Hubert’s cemetery after the luncheon.
She was a joy to all and her beautiful quilts continue to warm our hearts.
Huber Funeral & Cremation Services
Eden Prairie Chapel 952-949-4970