Rita D. Messer

June 18, 1928 ~ May 31, 2018 (age 89)
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Mrs. Rita D. Messer, 89 of South Pasadena passed away May 31, 2018.

Rita loved her baseball.  She was a loyal Tampa Bay Rays fan spending many years watching and even recording games, collecting fan merchandise and memorabilia, and was tickled to be in attendance at the games when she could.  In fact, the life she lived compared closely to what some may think of an actual baseball.  It’s got an uncomplicated appearance yet many layers are woven inside to create a resilient sphere stitched together by hand.  My grandmother enjoyed a simple life and never really wanted or asked for much yet her wonder and excitement about the little things in life, her compassion for family and friends, and her playful yet wise sense of personality were all woven so precisely that she only possessed space in her body and soul for good. Rita was always thinking of others and just had a fun-loving sense for life.  She enjoyed life right up until the ninth inning.

Rita was born on June 18th, 1928 to her parents Stanley and Florence Mankowski.  She was an only child growing up in Philadelphia and she graduated from the Saint Laurentius School.  Her family made many memorable trips to Atlantic City, the Pocono Mountains, Miami Beach, and Virginia Beach to name a few.  She would tell stories of all the dogs she owned and loved over the years, stating she always had a dog in her life.  One of my grandmother’s best friends Nancy, who was playfully nicknamed Pee Wee, introduced her to my grandfather Mack and the two got married on June 23rd, 1956.  This also made Nancy her sister-in-law since her husband Walt was a brother of Mack’s.  Eventually Mack and Rita had two sons, Daniel and Stanley and moved to New Jersey.

In 1991, Rita moved to St. Petersburg Florida to be closer to her son Daniel and his wife and three children when her husband Mack passed away.  She enjoyed having a more laid back life of spending time with family, working on puzzles, watching her shows and the Rays, and riding her “Harley” scooter to her favorite restaurant Nicks.  She made trips to visit friends and sister-in-laws in North Carolina where she would play cards for hours.  She told many stories of “the girls and Pee Wee” and all the fun they had together growing up.  Rita also went on a handful of cruises with family and especially enjoyed the fancy Captain dinners.  She spent many weekends and holidays with family, grandchildren and great grand dogs.  During Christmas, my brothers and I lovingly joked whose gift would make Grandmom cry after the year of the Ray’s pillow.  Rita eventually sold her home and moved to the Fountains in Pasadena where she loved looking out at the sky to watch sunsets and colorful fireworks around the holidays. 

Rita Messer was not only a daughter, a wife, a mother, a sister-in law, and a great friend but she was the best grandmother anyone could hope for.  On May 31st, Rita peacefully left her family and friends.  Rita Messer is survived by sons Daniel Messer and Stanley Messer, daughter-in-law Traci Messer, and grandchildren Marissa Terrana, Brian Messer, and Kevin Messer.  Nearing her ninetieth birthday, I like to think she hit it out of the park and made her final home run before the end of the ninth inning.   Grandmom, you will always be a champion and your story will play on in our hearts!

A private Cremation has been planned.

David C. Gross Funeral Homes, Central Avenue Chapel in St. Petersburg is Serving the family.

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