Cover photo for Rita Landherr's Obituary
Rita Landherr Profile Photo
Rita

Rita Landherr

d. March 26, 2018

Rita Ann Landherr, 87, of Austin, Minnesota passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on March 26, 2018 from metastatic cancer. She was surrounded by her family and husband as she was called to God’s Kingdom. Rita Ann Ryan was born July 10, 1930 on the Ryan family farm near Ryan, Iowa. She was the youngest of six children – having three sisters and two brothers. Rita grew up on the family farm and shared in all the daily farm chores: gathering corn cobs and wood for the kitchen stove, carrying coal for the furnace, cleaning the house on Saturday, gathering eggs, feeding the chickens, horses, cattle and pigs, cleaning the pens and laying down straw bedding for all the animals. Farm life was not all work as Rita enjoyed riding the bob sled and the stone boat pulled by the horses. School was in a one-room building in which all grades were taught. Rita walked almost two miles each day to school in all types of weather and her sister Marion was her teacher for the last two years of grade school. There was no running water at school and Rita frequently fetched water from the neighbors. Other duties at school included cleaning the erasers, raising the flag, carrying in coal and cleaning the blackboards. In 1948, Rita graduated from St. John’s High School in Ryan, Iowa. Throughout high school, Rita enjoyed playing softball and taking piano lessons. Just as Rita was graduating from high school, her father Frank was diagnosed with kidney cancer. The entire family cared for Frank at home for six months before he died in January 1949. In the fall of 1949, Rita entered the College of St. Teresa’s in Winona, Minnesota to study nursing. Before her freshman year ended, Rita answered a strong religious calling and entered the Franciscan Order of Nuns in 1950 as a postulant, took her first vows in 1952 after completing the noviate and took her final perpetual vows in 1955. At that time, she became fully professed as Sister Mary Dermot. Also, Rita had returned to St. Teresa’s and finished her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1955. For several years, Rita worked as a head nurse at St. Mary’s in Rochester before entering Physical Therapy School at the Mayo Clinic in September 1960 and graduating in August 1962. Subsequently, she worked as a physical therapist in Portsmouth, Ohio, Midway Hospital in St. Paul, the Motherhouse in Rochester and Sacred Heart Hospice in Austin. In 1971, Rita was released from her religious vows and married Gerald M. Landherr, a widower with seven children. Gerald’s first wife, Marie Landherr, had died in 1968 following the birth of her seventh child. Rita and Marie met while both attended St. Teresa’s and they remained lifelong friends after graduation. The daunting task of raising seven children and managing a household was simply another challenge in Rita’s life in which she was successful. Queen of Angels became Rita’s home church and there she frequently served as a cantor and in other roles to fulfill her strong Catholic faith. Rita was known by many for her selfless acts of kindness and strong commitment to help others in need. It was not unusual to see Rita’s name mentioned in a neighbor’s or friend’s obituary because of her devotion to helping the sick and infirmed. In the Biblical sense, Rita was a true martyr who believed serving others was her path to serving God. Rita was tirelessly devoted to caring for Loretta Magdalene Ellis (Marie’s mother) during her last years at Adams Care Center and both Martin and Margaret Landherr in the years before they died. Virtually all of the nursing home staff and many residents of Adams Care Center and Sacred Heart knew Rita by first name and looked forward to her frequent visits. Never did Rita put her own needs first and she strongly believed in serving the needs of others, first. Rita never complained – even when undergoing painful surgeries, chemotherapy and the agony of cancer the last five years of her life. When asked how she felt during these difficult times, Rita often responded: “Oh, I’m hanging in there.” In the 1980s, Rita was determined to run a marathon, but had very little time to train. Being a mother, running a household, serving her church, reaching out to the elderly and serving as part-time book-keeper at Landherr Rexall Drug, Rita ultimately trained “here and there.” In the end, she successfully finished two Grandma’s Marathons and one Twin Cities Marathon in her mid to late fifties. Prior to each marathon, Rita’s longest training run was possibly five miles and such sheer will was hard to comprehend. Rita never cared about finishing with a good time, she only wanted to experience running a marathon. Rita is survived by her husband of forty-seven years, Gerald; children, William (Pat Kohler) Landherr of Minneapolis, Michael (Sarah) Landherr of Austin, Patrick Landherr of Savage, Michelle (Tom) Halek of Maple Grove, Andrew (Betsy) Landherr of Lake Elmo, Kathleen (Chris) Pierson of Ankeny, IA and Kenneth (Shelly) Landherr of Prior Lake; sisters Marian Steins, Rosie Ryan and special friend Mary Ellen Harvey; fourteen grandchildren, three great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. Preceding Rita in death were her parents Frank Patrick and Helen Irene Ryan, brothers Louis Ryan and Bernard Ryan and sister Doris “Donna” Talley. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials be made to Sisters of St. Francis (Assisi Heights) in Rochester, Queen of Angels Church, the Annunciation Hermitage of Austin, Minnesota or the charity of choice. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:00 am on Monday, April 2, 2018 at Queen of Angels Church in Austin, Minnesota with Father Raul Silva officiating.Friends may call Sunday, April 1st from 2-4 pm at Mayer Funeral Home and one hour before the funeral mass on Monday,April 2nd.Interment will be in Calvary Cemetery.

Service Information


Cemetery

Calvary Cemetery
4th Drive SW
Austin MN 55912


Visitation

Sunday, April 1 2018
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Mayer Funeral Home
600 2nd Street NW
Austin MN 55912


Visitation

Monday, April 2 2018
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Queen of Angels Catholic Church
1001 Oakland Avenue East
Austin MN 55912


Service

Monday, April 2 2018
11:00 AM

Queen of Angels Catholic Church
1001 Oakland Avenue East
Austin MN 55912

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