Rita Wheeler Moore: 1958-2021


Rita Wheeler Moore, Sept. 12, 1958, to July 9, 2021.
  • Rita Wheeler Moore, Sept. 12, 1958, to July 9, 2021.

Rita Wheeler Moore passed away July 9, 2021, after a brief illness. Rita was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sept. 12, 1958, to Eugene and Gloria Wheeler. She graduated from Most Holy Trinity School in Sunnyslope in 1972 and Washington High School in Phoenix in 1975. She attended Glendale Community College until she joined the U.S. Air Force.

Rita moved to Humboldt County California when she left the Air Force. After moving to Eureka, she became active in the community. She graduated from Humboldt State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree specializing in Religious and Women's Studies. She was active with the Women's Studies program, now Critical Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies, where she participated in many related activities, becoming an activist for gender equality. Rita volunteered with the Red Cross and had the opportunity to help with hurricane relief on the Gulf Coast. What Rita is best known for and was most proud of was her 30 years of work as a swim instructor across Humboldt County. She was most passionate about her special students and her work with the Special Olympics swimming program. The families of her swimmers referred to her as "The Swim Whisperer" for her dedication and success. Everybody in the area knew her as "Grandma Rita."

Rita was preceded in death by her husband Randy Moore, their sons Benjamin and Scott, and father Eugene. She is survived by her son Tim, daughter Pamela, four grandchildren: Dameon, Ericka, Jordan and Jasper, mother Gloria, eight siblings: Kathy, Matt, Ann, Angela, Pat, Ray, Theresa, and Mike, as well as many nieces and nephews.

There will be an informal memorial gathering honoring Rita at Redwood Park in Arcata, California, on Sept. 11, 2021 from 1 to 4 p.m. Please stop by, see friends, share memories and stories with one another and Rita’s family. Bring a picnic. Celebrate Rita's life. Because some family and friends are at high medical risk, wearing a mask when indoors at the park lodge is requested.

A private memorial and interment will be held at Saint Mary's Cemetery at a different time for Rita's family.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Rita's honor to the Humboldt County Special Olympics Swim Team through www.sonc.org or to the Laurel Tree Charter School in Arcata, California, through www.laureltreecs.org.

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