Rita Berry Mellichamp
November 11, 1949 – May 16, 2018
COLUMBIA – Rita Louise Berry Mellichamp, 68 years young, at peace with her God, transitioned to renewed life on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at her home. Rita was born November 11, 1949 in Sumter, SC to Louis Berry and Frances Kaplan Berry. She moved to Columbia with her family at an early age where she graduated from Flora High School, obtained an Associate Degree of Science in Human Services from Midlands Technical College, where she selected to the Dean’s List, and received specialized training in business accounting from The University of South Carolina. Her varied career included bookkeeper with a law firm, banking customer service representative, retail work in her family’s clothing store on Main St., teaching assistant at Shandon Methodist Pre-school, dental technician, and ophthalmic clinical technician. But her greatest joy came in working with children with special needs at Rice Creek Elementary School, where she was honored as Staff Person of the Year, and finishing her working career spreading her caring and joy with students at Westwood High School as Attendance Secretary. Any child that needed love and a motherly hug knew to come to her. She loved people at their worst as well as their best, and her love was unconditional. Without second thought, she put anyone ahead of herself. It was at Westwood that she formed her closest bond with the group who called themselves “The Hens”, who supported and loved her so dearly through the final 6 years of her life. Special needs children always had a very special place in Rita’s heart. The family lived in Brandon, Florida for 10 years and she served on the Board of Directors of TOPS Soccer, a program for children with special needs who wanted to play soccer. She also served as a home room mother and on various PTA committees of elementary and middle schools where her children attended, and on the Board of Education for the Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia. Rita was an inspiration and guiding light to all who were fortunate enough to encounter her love, strength, endurance, and caring. She brightened even the darkest rooms and her laugh was contagious. But, above all else, was family, especially her children and grandchild, whom she cherished and adored, reveling in their accomplishments. She was a fighter and a beacon of bravery and coverage to all she met along her journey, and together with her unwavering faith in her God, it sustained her through the 15 years of struggle with cancer. In addition to her husband and partner of 34 years, David Mellichamp, Rita is survived by sons, Lance Mellichamp (Codi) and Jordan Mellichamp (Kristen Richie) of Brandon, Florida; daughter, Devon Mellichamp of West Columbia; step-children, Lori Dodson (Joey) of Lake Wylie and Ryan Mellichamp (Laura) of Irmo; one grandson; and eight step-grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Judi Emanuel (Jerry) of Columbia. She is predeceased by her mother, father, and brother, Alan Berry. A memorial Celebration of Life for Rita Berry Mellichamp will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at Mt. Tabor Lutheran Church, 1000 B Avenue, West Columbia. The family will receive friends in the assembly room of the church beginning at 2:30 p.m. Dunbar Funeral Home, Northeast Chapel, is assisting the family. Memorials may be made to South Carolina Oncology Associates Cares Foundation, 166 Stoneridge Dr., Columbia, SC 29210, or to a charity of choice. The family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of SCOA who have shown Rita so much love and caring throughout her journey. They also thank the team from Crescent Hospice for their love and caring for Rita and her family during her final days. Please sign the online guestbook at www.dunbarfunerals.com.
- Visitation Tuesday, May 22, 2018
- Celebration of Life Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Rita Berry Mellichamp
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Sharon Davis Dunn
May 19, 2018
Rita was always one of the sweetest, kindest girls I knew in high school. Always laughing and taking up for the underdog. I was never in her close circle of friends, but everyone knew Rita Berry. She was the life of a party. She and I snuck out of a window in study hall (and boy did we get in trouble). But she was always game for a dare. Obviously, she was a trooper until the end. Even in her picture, she has that tremendous smile. Makes you smile along with her. She made people happy. I know her family will miss you immensely. I can say I was honored to have known you 50 years ago.
May 19, 2018
What an incredible story. We met on a ship and then you and your family have helped me during my darkest days. To have you, Ritz, looking after and worried about me eating while you were in stage 86 cancer. You’re a Warrior like no other. You will hear time and again about your contagious laughter. So true. Your laugh is easy to pick out of 1250 people in an auditorium. I know cause I did it for over an hour when we first met. I know because I’ve sat and sang and laughed and cried and laughed and listened and laughed and said good bye to you. Nothing in my life will top that visualization etched in my head. That time you looked at me different. You asked me to go away. You did what few folllow through with by fulfilling their legacy. Yours is so detailed and has so many characters it took me living with you for four years to get the ‘hens’ right. It took me every second of every hour of every day to finally give in to your terms. “If someone must carry this burden please let it be me. Hey, son keep your head up and stop all the worrying it’s all gonna be alright.” And so ends the chapters of Ritz’s journey on this clod of dirt. She was what she was. She was social media before Zucker had big boy pants. She lead by example. She always insisted on things being a certain way and that’s because she new what every adult child and pet liked. There’s always gonna be tix at the window. There’s always gonna be memories of that smile. That hug. Those MEALS ;) There’s always going to a plate, a chair, a tear that is there cause it is for you. I love you. I’m so grateful for your kindness and support but the way you believe in me ?? Well that is worth all the hurt in my chest. So happy to meet you. So blessed to love you. So proud of the family you created and the manner in which they too welcome me I know you are high high high in the clouds waiting for them to fix your Suite the way you always have it. ✌️Jeff Sutherland