She was born on July 8, 1933, the youngest of seven children, during the year of the 1933 Hurricane before storms had names and was brought into the world in San Benito, Texas.
She is survived by her children, her eldest daughter, Mrs. Roxanne Lisbeth (Crabtree) Nations and son-in-law, Mr. Barry Nations of Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; her son, Mr. Eric Allen Crabtree of Austin, TX; and her youngest daughter, Mrs. Renee Lynn (Crabtree) Clark and son-in-law Mr. Dale DeMeyer of Cedar Park, TX. Rita also had three grandchildren, Mr. Dalton Lane Clark, Ms. Madison Delaney Clark and Ms. Sydny Beryl DeMeyer, all of Cedar Park, TX. She is also survived by two sisters, Mrs. Mildred Doris (Hance) Witt of Harlingen, TX and Mrs. Jean LaVerne (Hance) Early/Nesmith of Chicago, IL; a sister-in-law, Mrs. Opal (Martin) Hance of San Benito, TX; and many nephews, nieces and greater and extended family members.
Rita is preceded in death by her true love, Mr. Roger Laverne Crabtree of Arlington, TX, formerly of Springfield, Ohio; her parents, Mr. Denver Cecil Hance and Mrs. Eula Mae (Trimm) Hance who helped to pioneer the Rio Grande Valley back in 1919, a brother, Mr. Maurice Denver Hance and sister-in-law Mrs. Dorothy (Fry) Hance, and brother Mr. Norman Gerald Hance, all of San Benito, TX; brother, Mr. Douglas Fairbanks Hance and sister-in-law; Mrs. Ovie Ibedeen (Decker) Hance, both of Kingsville, TX; and a sister, Mrs. Wanda Marie McQueeny and brother-in-law Mr. Richard “Dick” C. McQueeney, both of San Antonio, TX; brother-in-laws, Mr. Charles “Ben” Witt, Mr. Otis Cecil Early and Mr. Mark T. Nesmith, all of Harlingen, TX; a great-niece, Mrs. Sandra Jeannine (Thomas) Honeycutt/Ashley and a great-nephew Mr. Kenneth Earl Thomas, both of Harlingen, TX.
Rita was honored earlier in her life by being named Cameron County’s 4-H Queen at the age of 13. After graduating from San Benito High School in 1950, Rita started her career in the banking industry the very next day at The San Benito Bank and Trust Company until her marriage of nine years to Roger in 1954. There she traveled as an Air Force wife to the territory of Hawaii (before it became a state) and to all over the U.S., and finally ending back where she started, in the Rio Grande Valley of Harlingen to raise her three children. For 40+ years, Rita had made a career in banking starting in San Benito and then over to Harlingen of what was then known as The First National Bank of Harlingen back in 1963, changing bank names many times since then. She was secretary to many bank presidents for many years and was honored by making Secretary of the Year in 1977 and then to the position of Assistant Vice President years later. Rita finally transferred over to the bank’s New Accounts and Loan Divisions.
Rita retired from the bank the first time back in 1995, which is now called today, The Bank of America in Harlingen, but after finding out retirement was not for her just yet; she came out of retirement, and went back to the industry she loved so well. She worked for three more years at the new San Benito Bank and Trust Office located at the old Harlingen Post Office until she finally retired for good in 1998. She was a member of the National Secretary’s Association, The Sundial Chapter, and received numerous awards and accolades during her banking tenure and afterwards as well. She was a member and past president (1988 – 1989) of the Financial Women, International, (formerly National Association of Bank Women), Harlingen Chamber of Commerce, and Harlingen Historical Preservation Society.
Rita became a proud published author for the Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Valley Proud History Pioneer Cookbook back in 1991. She also received appreciation from The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States honored her for her Genealogical Work back in 2002 and 2003. In addition, Rita was a member of The American Cancer Society, The Tip O’ Texas Genealogical Society, a member of the BPO Does – Chapter 90 in San Benito and member of The First United Methodist Church in Harlingen as well as other great organizations. Most people knew of Rita however, through the bank(s), as that was her life’s career.
Her hobbies included: gardening, cooking, collecting, fashion and instilling life’s values in her children and grandchildren, chairing her San Benito Class Reunions, researching family genealogy, and travel. During her later days in her banking career, Rita organized trips for senior citizens through InnerCircle and traveled extensively around the World to Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America, all points of the United States, including Alaska and a returned trip to Hawaii. She also traveled to Amsterdam, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Israel and Russia and most points in between. When not traveling, Rita was very family oriented and even spearheaded a family campaign to name Old Zillock Road near Morrow Road and Paso Real Highway are located after her father, Denver Cecil Hance Road which bears his name today on the Hance Family Farm. This farm is still owned & operated by her brother Norman Hance’s sons today to include: Mr. Gerald Wayne Hance, Mr. Bobby Gene Hance and Mr. Preston Warren Hance.
Visitation hours will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2010 from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with the family present from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
Funeral services will be held at Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home located at 710 Ed Carey Drive, in Harlingen, Texas, 78550 (1-956-423-3636) at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, December 10, 2010. Burial will follow at Mont Meta Memorial Park in San Benito, Texas. Flowers are requested.
You are invited to leave a memory or condolence at www.buck-ashcraft.com.
Arrangements are with Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home.