Marita "Rita" J. McCelvey

July 16, 1928July 24, 2018
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Marita Jean (Lewis) McCelvey, age 90, passed away July 24, 2018 in Houston, Texas. She was born July 16, 1928, on a farm in Burleson County, Texas to Charlie and Jana Lewis. Her early education was in Snook and Somerville, Texas and later she attended Tarleton College and Southwest Texas State Teachers College, earning a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate. She moved to Houston to begin her career and earned her Master’s degree in Education from the University of Houston.

Rita touched the lives of many children in the Oak Forest community. She loved teaching, and served in Houston area schools over a span of more than 30 years, first as girls’ athletics coach at Smiley High School, and later as an elementary teacher primarily at Oak Forest Elementary. She led the Red Cross summer swim program at the Oak Forest pool, teaching both children and adults in this life saving skill. She coached girls’ softball teams in the Oaks Dad’s Club for many years, teaching the girls the fundamentals of the game and how to have fun with it.

She was a long time member of the Oak Forest Baptist Church, and later the Graceview Baptist Church near Tomball serving as a Sunday school teacher and church library volunteer.

Rita loved learning about and nurturing birds. After retirement she lived for many years in the country near Tomball, Texas, where she established her own small bird sanctuary. She also enjoyed gardening, although the harvest sometimes exceeded the expectation and the need. Her children can recall the “year of the watermelon” when every meal had to be accompanied by a serving of that fruit, or the years when every surface in the house seemed to be covered with squash, peanuts or sweet potatoes. Neighbors had been known to close their shades when they saw the children coming with more baskets of produce.

Rita loved to travel, visiting Israel, Columbia, China, the Netherlands, Alaska and many locations throughout the US.

Rita is survived by her son Michael and fiancé Bichlan Thai; son Patrick and wife Barbara; daughter Debra Hayes; grandchildren Abbie Dollar, James McCelvey, Leah Carriveau, Daniel McCelvey, Shawn Hayes, Morgan McCelvey, Mason McCelvey; and five great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and brothers Pat and Paul Lewis.

The family would like to thank the caregivers of Autumn Grove Cottage, the Heights, for their compassionate care of Rita over the last three years, and Linda Canning for her help to Rita and the family over many years.

In lieu of customary remembrances, kindly consider a contribution in Rita’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association.


Marita "Rita" J. McCelvey

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Cheryl Mclane

August 5, 2018

I can’t share just one favorite memory. There is a lifetime of wonderful memories of Rita. She was always so welcoming and accepted me as one of her own. The McCelvey home was my second home. There will always be a very special place in my heart for Mrs. McCelvey. I look forward to our reunion. Love to all the family. Cheryl McLane.