Rita Mae Bechberger was born in Monroe, Michigan on January 14, 1931. An only child, she was the daughter of Gerald F. Bechberger and Norma M. (Blanke) Bechberger. She was educated through the eighth grade at the Stoney Creek One Room Schoolhouse. As a young girl, music was an integral part of her life. While playing the piano and guitar she delighted her audiences with recital performances.
Rita was employed in Downtown Monroe at Family and Dennison Theatres, where her warm smile welcomed moviegoers as she sold tickets, worked the candy counter, and was an usher. She also contributed her skills to JCPenney, selling yard goods and materials bringing her vibrant personality to the workplace.
One evening, Rita caught the gaze of an Air Force man, Howard Harry Raasch, originally from Wisconsin, but who happened to be visiting Monroe on leave. They had a whirlwind romance and were married on June 15, 1957, at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in Monroe. The couple was blessed with two children. After her marriage, Rita took care of her family’s needs as a homemaker.
A lifelong member of Zion Lutheran Church, her involvement there was an integral part of her life. Being baptized and confirmed at Zion her faith guided her journey. For many years, including while her own children were attending the school, Rita was a familiar face, serving as a school lunch aide and as a room mother providing care and support where it was needed most. Rita also served as a Girl Pioneer leader, inspiring young girls to grow and develop their potential. Additionally, Rita was an active member of the Ladies Aid Society, and she participated in the church choir, filling the hearts of those who heard her sing with joy and peace.
Rita's commitment to her community extended beyond the church, as she served as the photography superintendent for 4H at the Monroe County Fair for many years. Her love for crafting found a home within a group of talented ladies in the Handiette’s Craft Club. She shared this passion with her daughter, Lorraine and together, they attended many craft shows. More than the crafts themselves, Rita cherished the connections made and the social aspect of these events.
Beyond her local community, Rita enjoyed travel. She and Howard were active with the Frenchtown Charter Travel Club, exploring new destinations such as New England, Branson, and visiting Kentucky and Tennessee on Fall color tours. They made memorable trips to Disney World and Hawaii along the way. They also loved to travel the area attending dances.
Rita kept her mind sharp challenging herself with word search puzzles. She collected dolls, teddy bears, and dollhouse miniatures, bringing joy and charm into her home. She loved every holiday, and she brought smiles to the festivities with her elaborate decorations. The consummate caregiver, Rita had her own card ministry, sending get well and thinking of you notes to family, friends, and shut-ins to encourage them.
Above all, Rita treasured the time she spent with her children and grandchildren, actively participating in their lives, especially attending their sporting events and recitals.
Rita Mae Raasch, age 92, of Monroe passed away at 4:33pm on Friday; August 18, 2023 at ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital. Her passing was preceded by her parents. To cherish her memory, she leaves her beloved husband of sixty-six years: Howard Harry Raasch of Monroe; two loving children: Lorraine (Juergen) Koenig of Carleton and James (Melanie) Raasch of Maybee; three grandchildren: Danielle Raasch (Austin Goldsmith) of Monroe, Quentin Raasch of Maybee, and Brandon Raasch (Mandy Stone) of Monroe; and two great grandchildren: Evalee Roach of Monroe and Maverick Raasch of Maybee.
Friends may gather from 2:00pm until 8:00pm on Tuesday; August 22, 2023, at Merkle Funeral Service, North Monroe; 2442 North Monroe Street, Monroe, Michigan 48162 (734) 384-5185. She will lie in state from 10:00am until 11:00am on Wednesday; August 23, 2023, at Zion Lutheran Church; 186 Cole Road, Monroe, Michigan 48162. A Funeral Service Celebrating Her Life will take place at 11:00am with Pastor Gregory Sitzman officiating. Procession will follow to Roselawn Memorial Park in LaSalle for burial.
Memorials in her honor are suggested to Zion Lutheran Church. Online guests may leave words of inspiration and comfort or share a photo by visiting www.merklefs.com.