Rita May Staus, age 87, of Rhinelander, died on Nov. 14, 2022, at Grace Lodge in Rhinelander. She was born at home during a blizzard on Feb. 27, 1935 in the Town of Erin, the daughter of Edna and Gustave Tuskey. Her family lived in Hartford until 1946 when they moved to Rhinelander where they lived on the Moen Lake Chain. She graduated from Rhinelander High School in 1953. After high school, Rita attended Deaconess School of Nursing in Milwaukee, graduating as an RN in 1957. In 1961, she married Ralph Staus and they enjoyed nearly 60 years of marriage. She worked at Deaconess Hospital in surgery until they had children. She assisted Ralph in running the two funeral homes they owned, first in Sheboygan Falls, from 1963-1968, and then Birnamwood, from 1969-1975, before moving to Rhinelander.
Rita also worked doing private duty nursing and as a school nurse during some of these years. They raised two daughters, Anne and Carrie, and a son, Ty.
Rita worked as a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital from 1976-1997 where she was known for her superb patient care and her mentoring of new nurses. She greatly valued the rapport that she shared with doctors, nurses, CNAs and the rest of the staff there. She served as a hospice volunteer for a long time, assisting many individuals, often sitting with them until the very end. From her hospice work to her nursing career, Rita spent most of her years caring for others. This included caring for animals as a wildlife transporter for Wild Instincts where she and Ralph aided in transporting dozens of injured animals so they could be rehabilitated. Rita was a long-time member of the UCC Congregational Church where in recent decades she was very active in filling backpacks and providing Christmas presents for children in need. She and Ralph made monthly desserts for the NATH House and cookies, cupcakes and meals for anyone that they knew had a need. We will miss her chicken soup, chili, homemade apple sauce and canned pickled beets
She was a season ticket holder for the Green Bay Packers long before she was married and attended many games at both County Stadium and Lambeau Field. She was an avid supporter of high school athletics and attended hundreds of high school basketball games including many state tournaments. Family traditions and time spent together are the rich legacy she leaves behind. Many of her children's friends considered her house their second home. Her family will cherish the 25 years of going to Duluth together, the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Africa, fishing expeditions and our many camping trips growing up. Her grandkids will always remember the packed itineraries and trips that she planned each summer for the week-long, no-parents-allowed "Grandma Camp" that she hosted.
Rita is survived by her children Anne (David) Osterwind of Glendale; Ty (Tanya) Staus of Wausau; son-in-law Tom Zimmer of Eau Claire; and seven grandchildren: Joelle (Chase) Gould, Zach and Kia Osterwind; Danica and Colin Staus; Hannah (Deion) Sonsalla and Ian Zimmer; her great-grandson Leon Gould; her sister, Sandra Gasser of Rhinelander and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband Ralph, daughter Carrie Zimmer, sister Lola LeClaire, and granddaughter Katie Osterwind. In accordance with her wishes, the family requests that memorial donations be directed to Wild Instincts (wildlife rehabilitation center) in Rhinelander (Donations can be sent to Wild Instincts, 4621 Apperson Dr, Rhinelander, WI 54501).
The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the staff of Grace Lodge Assisted Living for the excellent, loving and compassionate care they provided for Rita.
Condolences to the family can be sent to Anne Osterwind, 6727 N. Range Line Road, Glendale, WI 53209. A visitation for Rita will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17, 2022 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with memorial services following at 1 p.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ. Reverend Myles Alexander will be officiating. You may also leave your private condolences for the Staus family at www.carlsonfh.com.
The Carlson Funeral Home (715-369-1414) is serving the Staus family.
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