Rita Jean Muckenthaler was born on August 3,1933, in Wamego, Kansas to Margaret and Theodore Straub. Rita graduated from Wamego High School in 1950. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Kansas State University and a Master of Science from Washburn University both in education. In 1952, she married Cloyes (Duke) Winsor. They had two sons, Chuck and Alan. Duke was killed in a car accident. Later, she married Richard Simecka, they had one daughter, Lori. After a ten year marriage they divorced. In 1977, she married Marvin Muckenthaler, he preceded her in death.
Rita taught school in Holton, Havensville, Onaga, Royal Valley, and USD 321. She worked after retirement for the legislature in Topeka. She also worked tirelessly at the historical museum in St. Marys.
Community was very important to Rita. She was busy with many clubs and community activities. She was a member of Immaculate Conception Church, St. Marys Chamber of Commerce, Kaw Valley Education Association (serving as president), lifetime member of NEA and KNEA, Delta Kappa Gamma Alpha Zeta Chapter(served as president), life member of the Kansas State Alumni Association, Kansas State Presidents Club, Ahearn Club, St. Marys Women’s Golf Association(serving as president), St. Marys Golf Course Commission, Literary Club, Rossville Library Book Club, Bunco group, American Legion Auxiliary (serving as president), Immaculate Conception Women's Circle (served as funeral dinner director). She was director and president of the St. Marys Historical Society for over 30 years. She took pride in the fine museum she helped develop and her hope was it would become nationally known.
Rita ran in half marathons; she joked that she won the over 50 races, played tennis at Woodvalley in Topeka, golfed, and Biked Across Kansas. She loved to hike and swim also. She hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon at age 59. She was proud of the fact that she initiated the family pass at the St. Marys pool. She walked and worked out each day. Rita had season tickets to Kansas State volleyball, football, and girls’ basketball.
Rita loved to watch her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in their activities. She traveled many miles to watch ball games, track meets, cross-country and any other activity they participated in.
Rita was a world traveler. She loved cruises, bus trips, overseas trips with Dr. Kurtz from K-State and many other trips around the world, road trips with friends and family, and traveling to football and girls’ basketball games to cheer on Kansas State. She could also be seen gambling from time to time. Rita took pride in her yard and loved working outdoors with her flowers. One of her favorite past-times was reading.
Rita is preceded in death by her parents and siblings-Dale and Joe Straub, Theola Bearman, Pauline Ellis, and Maxine Eichem. She is survived by her children; Charles Simecka (Debbie) of Topeka, Alan Simecka (Donna) of St. Marys, and Lori Martini (Steve) of Manhattan; 8 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, along with many nieces and nephews.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 12:00 P.M. Friday, January 5, 2024, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in St. Marys. Burial will be at Mt. Calvary Cemetery St. Marys. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Thursday, January 4, 2024, from 5:00 until the 7:00 P.M. Rosary. Memorial contributions may be made to the Indian Pay Station Museum and sent to Piper Funeral Home, 714 Maple Street, St. Marys, Kansas 66536. Online condolences may be sent to www.piperfuneralhome.com.
Feel free to wear your favorite purple in honor of Rita's beloved Wildcats - EMAW!