Rita Jean (Harwell) Helwig, 84, of Lee’s Summit, MO passed away on February 22, 2017 at her home after a 10+ year battle with Alzheimer’s. Rita was born on September 17, 1932 and raised in Kermit, TX before moving to Tightwad, MO where she attended Clinton High School. After meeting and marrying her husband, Robert Helwig, she moved to Kansas City, MO and worked for Business Men’s Assurance until her retirement in the late 1980’s. She and husband, “Bert,” began their retirement venture as owners of Ace’s Gems & Minerals in the Westport area, realizing a passion for gems, minerals, jewelry making and being one’s own boss.
Rita was very involved in the activities of her four daughters, serving in the PTA and as a Girl Scout leader for numerous years, even after her own children had graduated from the ranks of scouting. Camping was a favored pastime which led to participation on youth trips with the Central Presbyterian Church, Girl Scout camp outs, and annual camping journeys with the family which allowed them all to see much of the grandeur of the United States. Rita was active in Show-Me Rockhounds, Sterling Guild, and Association of Earth Science Clubs. In addition to holding numerous leadership positions in these organizations, Rita was one of the founders of the Association’s Scholarship Fund which provides grants to deserving students who are studying in the field of earth science. Rita loved working with children and often hosted educational opportunities in their business and also coordinated the Association’s annual education day at the Kansas City Gem and Mineral Show.
Rita was preceded in death by her grandparents, William and Ethel Clark, who were largely responsible for raising her; her parents, Mortimer and Bess Harwell; her two brothers, William Harwell and Patrick Harwell, and her son-in-law, John Park. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Robert Helwig of Lee’s Summit, MO, four daughters, Donna Park, Karen Helwig-Marchand and Marcia Helwig, all of Lee’s Summit, MO and Lisa Green of Houston, TX; and three grandchildren, Nathan Park of Lee’s Summit, MO, Taylor Park of Columbia, MO, and Phillip Helwig of Kansas City, MO, as well as her devoted caretaker, Sharla Davies of Lee’s Summit, MO.