Obituaries » RITA M. MARTEL

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October 23, 1928 - October 24, 2015

Burial Date October 29, 2015

Funeral Home Miles Funeral Home

Place of Service Miles Funeral Home

Section Garden of Heritage I Lot Number: 229Grave Number: C#2

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     Rita Martel passed quietly from this life at home on Oct. 24, 2015 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. For years she met the challenges with a toughness, determination, and resilience that even those closest to her were not quite expecting from such a soft-spoken and gentle woman.

She leaves and will be lovingly missed by her husband of 60 years, Dr. Maurice “Marty” H. Martel; four children, Steven M. Martel and his wife, Katherine of Steep Falls, Maine; Bruce A. Martel and his wife Karen of Saco, Maine; Susan L. Dannenberg and her husband, Bruce of Black Mountain, North Carolina; and David W. Martel and his companion, Sheril of Gardner; grandchildren Emily, Nate, Andy, Jesse, Olivia, and Isaac; and several nephews and nieces. She is predeceased by her older brothers Clement and John Bridenhagen.

Rita was born in the Great Lakes shipbuilding town of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to Clement and Katherine (Spahn) Bridenhagen. She graduated from Sturgeon Bay High School, then earned a bachelor’s degree in Occupational, and later Physical therapy from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating college, Rita enlisted in the Women’s Army Medical Corps where she served three years working primarily with Korean war amputees before being honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. For most of her service she was stationed at the Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek Michigan. After the Army she worked as a physical therapist at the Illinois Central Hospital in Chicago.

Marty was also stationed at Percy Jones Army Hospital. They met there in 1952. Despite, and perhaps amused by his early difficulties pronouncing her name (as told and retold to great hilarity), she agreed to go out with him.

It seems Marty found other ways to make a favorable impression, for they were married in Chicago in 1955. They moved to Holden, Massachusetts in 1957, where she helped him develop his dental practice, and soon gave birth to the first of their four children.

Through the births of three more children, and throughout the time they were in school, Rita managed the household with a calm efficiency that belied the complexities involved. But the efficiency was never at the expense of individual attention or involvement in her children’s lives, from school activities to help setting up apartments through donations, refurbishment, and church bazaar acquisitions, to assembly of photo albums and family recipe collections that will be enjoyed and treasured for years to come. She was also an ongoing part of Marty’s dental practice, first as an occasional fill-in and later overseeing the finances.

Rita was a member of St. Mary’s Church in Jefferson and Worcester Country Club. She was a talented cook who gladly shared recipes and techniques. Other interests included quilting, sewing, and playing bridge with her husband and friends. When their children were younger, Rita and Marty never hesitated to pack the camper and travel around the country. Rita was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend, and will be remembered as thoughtful, loving, patient and kind.

Rita and Marty moved from Holden to the Briarwood retirement community in Worcester in 2011.

Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Rita’s family from 4 to 7 PM on Wednesday, October 28, at the Miles Funeral Home, 1158 Main St., Holden. A funeral service honoring Rita’s life will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, October 29 at the funeral home with interment at Worcester County Memorial Park in Paxton. A reception will follow at Briarwood. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Hudson Hoaglund Society, Office of Advancement, University of Massachusetts, 333 South St., Shrewsbury, MA 01545, or to the Briarwood Retirement Community, 65 Briarwood Circle, Worcester, MA 01606.