BELOIT — Rita Jane (Middlecamp) Macewicz died at home January 17, surrounded by her children.
She was a former president of the Madison Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (CCW) and a former province director of the National CCW, among many other areas of involvement in the Church and community.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, at St. Jude Catholic Church, 747 Hackett St., Beloit. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, at Daley Murphy Wisch & Associates Funeral Home and Crematorium, 2355 Cranston Rd., Beloit, with a Scripture service at 6 p.m. Visitation will also be from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday at St. Jude Church.
The eighth child of David W. Middlecamp and Barbara E. (Hein) Middlecamp, she was born on December, 9, 1929, in Wisconsin Rapids.
Rita was deeply devoted to God, her family, community, and country, and spent her life serving others.
Devoted to family, community
In childhood, she was best friend and constant defender of a disabled brother and sister, later becoming their legal guardian, caring for them until their deaths.
She was a Girl Scout, camp counselor, and later scout leader, and started the first Girl Scout troop at St. Jude Catholic Parish in Beloit.
She loved the outdoors, sewing, dolls, stamps, arranging flowers, scrapbooking and crafts, and studied piano, clarinet, voice, and business — sharing those skills and interests with her children and scouts who called her “Songbird.”
Met future husband
An honor graduate of Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, Rita first worked as a private secretary for Prentiss Wabers (Preway), then moved to Chicago, where she worked for Illinois Farm Supply and began dating the love of her life, Edmund Macewicz.
The couple danced throughout courtship at the Trianon and Aragon Ballrooms in Chicago, marrying in 1949 at SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Wisconsin Rapids. They moved to Janesville, where Rita completed nurses’ aide training and worked at Mercy Hospital. Her duties included baptizing stillborn babies.
In 1954, the couple bought a home in Beloit, joined St. Jude Parish, helped raise three children from Ed’s first marriage, and together had nine more children.
Though money was scarce, she found bargains and creatively wrapped gifts to make St. Nicholas Day and Christmas special, and focused her children on the birth of Christ by leading them in a song-filled ceremony to place the baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve. She made May baskets each year for her children to fill with treats and violets from the yard for neighborhood friends.
Musically inclined, Rita played piano as her children napped, enjoyed teaching them to sing, and brought them to choir practice and community concerts. She was a member of Beloit Treble Clef, Treble Clefettes, St. Jude Church choir, UW-Rock Choir, and Beloit College/ Community Masterworks Chorus.
To raise money for family vacations, Rita worked various temporary jobs for Dependability, as crew leader for the U.S. Census, and at the Wisconsin Tourism Bureau.
She wrote weekly newspaper columns about the Badger Council of Girl Scouts and handled public relations for the Wider Opportunity, “Country Fare.”
She completed an Associate of Arts degree with honors at the University of Wisconsin-Rock Center, and was a MATRIX editor/reporter at UW-Madison, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in journalism/public relations and political science.
She worked as an intern for the Secretary of State of Wisconsin and UW Alumni Magazine, received an Outstanding Journalistic Achievement award and was a finalist for the Dean’s Outstanding Returning Adult Student Award.
She founded MACE PR and Research Service and conducted seven campaigns for local, state, and congressional candidates and provided free-lance, research/writing services, and newsletters. She worked for the Beloit School District for 13 years, and also ran a Creative Memories business.
Church, community involvement
Rita was past president of St. Jude Marian Guild, co-author of the parish newsletter, Eucharistic minister and lector, Pastoral Council chair, steering committee chair for the St. Jude Parish Centennial, president of Rock Deanery and of the Madison Diocesan Council of Catholic Women (CCW), National CCW legislative secretary, and later installed as Milwaukee Province director with the National CCW Board. She was a lifetime member of the National Catholic Foresters.
Active in parent/teacher associations at all levels, she served on the Wisconsin State PTA Board and was Honorary Life Member of the Wisconsin Congress of Parents and Teachers.
A lifetime Girl Scout, she was a board member and historian for the Badger Council and was awarded Girl Scouting’s two highest honors.
Other community service included board member of Beloit Meals on Wheels, Beloit League of Women Voters, Rock-Walworth Community Action Program, election inspector and registrar, Rock County Democratic Party secretary, steering committee member for Social Justice in America Lecture and Symposium Series, and Beloit City Plan Commission.
Rita was vice-regent and regent of the Beloit Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and proud of her country and heritage. She enjoyed researching Wisconsin history, her husband’s family lineage, and her family tree.
Rita received the CCW Our Lady of Good Counsel award, Catholic Charities Leadership Award, YWCA Tribute to Women Minnie Mills Enking Volunteer Award, Beloit Daily News Volunteer of the Month Award, Wisconsin PTA Katzer-Smith Volunteer Service Award, Esther Loomis Trust Fund and Tallman Foundation of Janesville scholarships, and American Association of University Women Excellence in Scholarship Award.
She was preceded in death by her husband Edmund of nearly 67 years, her parents, siblings, daughter Lillian, infant sons Robin and Paul, infant daughter Joan, great-grandsons Adam, Kyle, and Monty, and others.
She is survived by eight children, Lois (Alex) Orsag, Jr., Nancy (Richard, deceased) Diaz, Kathryn (Gary) Hackney, Janet (Robert) Camel, Mary (Kevin Davis) Macewicz, John Macewicz, Karen (David) Murphy, and Debra (Ben) Bender; 38 grandchildren; 45 great-grandchildren; and seven great-great grandchildren.
The family wishes to thank Beloit Regional Hospice for their compassionate, loving care of Rita.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Beloit Regional Hospice, National Council of Catholic Women, Beloit Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, St. Jude Parish, or a charity of the donor’s choice.