Rita (Whitmore) Stofflet

Error message

  • Notice: Undefined index: taxonomy_term in similarterms_taxonomy_node_get_terms() (line 518 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 0 in similarterms_list() (line 221 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
  • Notice: Undefined offset: 1 in similarterms_list() (line 222 of /home/middleton/www/www/sites/all/modules/similarterms/similarterms.module).
admin's picture

LAKE GENEVA–Rita D. (Whitmore) Stofflet, who was born into poverty in a Brooklyn, New York Irish tenement on Oct. 24, 1920, passed away at age 101 on Sept. 10, 2022, at Golden Years Assisted Living residential facility in Lake Geneva, with her daughter and son by her side.

Reflecting on life at age 100, Rita said: "You experience all kinds of tragedies and good things, and you get your money's worth. But I look at it, and I can't believe it was as wonderful as it was."

It didn't start out that way. Rita remembers having little food as a child, "eating fried potatoes and onions night after night" made by her single mother, Ethel. Later in life, always a member of the "Clean Plate Club", Rita would say: "I eat it all because I paid for it," and "I like anything I can get for nothing." (It's even funnier if you imagine her quotes said with her Brooklyn accent.)

She attended Girls Commercial High School in Brooklyn, where she learned secretarial skills that she eventually put to work off Wall Street. During World War II, she met the love of her life, Sgt. John W. Stofflet, at Fort Hamilton, NY, where she was a USO volunteer. One day her priest mentioned: "The USO is looking for nice girls to listen to homesick soldiers and dance with them at the Fort."

John, a native of Watertown, and a member of the US Army Port of Embarkation Band, proposed to Rita in the shadow of the Verrazzano Bridge on the shores of Brooklyn, and they married in April of 1944. The couple moved to Wisconsin after the war and raised three children, while he was employed in the field of education.

After John worked at the Williams Bay School District for 17 years (the first five years as a biology and physical education teacher, then as school district administrator for 12 years), he, Rita, and the children moved to Middleton where he became the district administrator of the then-Middleton Union High School in June 1967. The family relocated to 7118 Prairie Dr. and the three children continued their education in Middleton. Their eldest daughter Bonnie Ann Stofflet even later became Miss Middleton of 1968.

Rita continued her work as an executive secretary, eventually at United Way. She volunteered often at her children's schools, always attending their events, and was Worthy Matron of the Walworth Order of Eastern Star in 1959. She was named Volunteer of the Year in Highlands County, FL for her work as a retiree reading to young children in schools. Her faith and the United Church of Christ were very important to her.

She survived COVID-19 pandemic at age 100. As she faced death at age 101, Rita kept that sense of humor, remarking to the hospice intake nurse listening to her chest, "Is it still beating, or are you the undertaker?" Despite health challenges "I'm losing my voice. I'm sure that'll make some people happy". Rita persevered.

Family members that survive Rita include her two daughters, Bonnie Stofflet Anderson of South Beloit, IL, Nancy (Ronald Morton) of Island Park, NY, and her youngest child, her son, John (Anna J. Trull) Stofflet of Madison; her cherished seven grandchildren: Jenni (Matt) Thompson, Jacki (Jeremy) Hogan, Ryan (Megan) Anderson, Max and Nick Morton, and Taylor and Kaia Stofflet; as well as seven great-grandchildren: Paige, M.J., Caleb, Will, Olivia, Evelyn, and Alayna. 

She was sadly preceded in death by her beloved husband John Stofflet (April 1995), after 51 years of marriage; and her five Whitmore siblings: David, Elizabeth (Lila), Josephine, Marion, and Albert; and other relatives.

In Rita's final years, she was very grateful to her many devoted caregivers at Golden Years of Walworth and Lake Geneva, as well as Aurora at Home Hospice.

Her family and a small circle of friends will gather to remember Rita someday soon. Toynton Funeral Home in Walworth served the family during their time of grief.  If you'd like to honor Rita's memory, please consider donating to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin (at 2802 Dairy Dr., Madison, Wisconsin 53718), or by donating to the Alzheimer's and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin (at 6314 Odana Rd., Suite 4, Madison, Wisconsin 53719).

Rate this article: 
No votes yet