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Thursday, November 16, 2023
1:00 - 2:00pm (Mountain (no DST) time)
Rita Anne Klemm
One last paper for her to grade...
"Such is the difference between yesterday and today. We are all going to the play or coming home from it." ~Charles Dickens
Rita Anne Klemm, one of the beloved honors English teachers from Wheat Ridge High School, passed away peacefully at her home on October 20, 2023. She was born on September 4, 1935 on a farm in Lincoln, IL to Lester W. and Mary M. "Margie" Miller Klemm. Anne Bronte would have described it as "a light wind swept over the corn, and all nature laughed in the sunshine."
An early and voracious reader, she started school in second grade, skipping past first grade with ease. Later she attended college at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa where she received her degree in English with minors in Education and Social Studies. In 1956 she was recruited to Colorado to become a teacher by then JeffCo superintendent Fletcher Miller. Her first day of teaching in Lakewood (before it was even an incorporated city) was the day she turned 21!
She taught 4th and 5th grade at Vivian Elementary for six years in a shared classroom in its second year open. The next four years she taught 7th, 8th, 9th and Journalism classes at Manning Middle School under Ms. Olive Dennison. Finishing up her career, she taught Honors English & Literature at Wheat Ridge High School for 34 years. This is where she had her fondest memories. "I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think." ~Socrates
During that time she earned her Master of Arts from Regis University. For many years with the WRHS theater program, she produced, staged, costumed, piano-accompanied and directed plays and musicals like Camelot, South Pacific and Fiddler on the Roof. A culmination of her teaching was being a finalist for Colorado Teacher of the Year in 1995. She retired in 1997 but continued to substitute teach at various Jeffco high schools. Her final substitution was taking over for a teacher after the Columbine shooting in 1999. Countless students continued to come up to her in restaurants, stores, etc. to tell her how much she influenced their life and what an amazing teacher she was, and her face would light up. She continued to say up until the day before she passed that if they asked her to come to substitute teach, she would in a heartbeat.
A devout Catholic her entire life, Rita was active in her St Jude Catholic Church parish as a eucharistic minister and bible study member. She was also an avid reader with a passion for mysteries, British literature and history around WWII, so much so that Barnes & Noble employees greeted her by name. She was a member of AAUW and a faithful Broncos fan.
She is preceded in death by her parents; sister Mona Clare Bismark; brother-in-law Phillip H. Schueth.
She is survived by one sister, Mary Jane Schueth of Lakewood, CO; caregiver and niece Mary K. "Katie" (John) Drafts of Lakewood, CO; niece Gail E. Schueth of Basalt, CO; nephews Andrew W. (Florencia) Bismark of San Diego, CA, Daniel L. Schueth of Kansas City, MO, Stephen P. Schueth of Little Rock, AR; great nieces and nephews Hayden Drafts, Eliza Drafts, Sebastian Bismark, Lucia Bismark, Paul McDuffee, and Laurin McDuffee Nouri. She also survived by her beloved feline fur babies Franklin, Molly and Teddy, and special caregiver Brenda.
A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Jude Catholic Church at 9405 W. Florida Ave in Lakewood, CO on Thursday, November 16, 2023 at 1:00 followed by a reception at the church. Burial will be held at a later date at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Lincoln, IL.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by mail at 501 St. Jude Place Memphis, TN 38105 or visit stjude.org/donate.
For her family, friends, and the thousands of kids' lives she touched, it is hard to say goodbye. Knowing the impact she has left on us, I think God would have given her an "A".
"Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight til it be morrow." ~William Shakespeare