Rita Joanne Lastort, 82, of Wilmington, N.C., passed away peacefully at Trinity Grove early Thursday morning. Rita was born in Detroit, Mich., daughter of the late Justine (Haines) and Charles Jarrett. Her family moved back to their Altoona roots when Rita was seven. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 60 years, Joseph “JD”; and brothers, Carl and Philip.
Surviving are her three children: Michael (Jan) of Takoma Park, Md., Renee Pennebacker (Paige) and Nicole Lee (Dylan), both of Wilmington, N.C.; three grandsons: Taran, Jarrett and Nicholas Pennebacker, who all reside in California.
Rita is also survived by her brother, Charles “Davey” Jarrett of Hollidaysburg; by her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Martha (Lastort) and Mickey Paris of Altoona; and by her very best friend, Marie Petro, her soul sister.
After graduating from Altoona High School in 1958, Rita was a secretary at Wolf Furniture until she met the love of her life, got married and became a stay-at-home mom. She returned to work for 10 years at Home Nursing Agency, before retiring to Bradenton, Fla., in 1997 to be closer to her grandsons, where she continued her legacy of being the most amazing Nanny and played many key roles in their lives, including being their number one, and loudest, soccer grandma cheerleader. She worked at Barnes Walker Attorneys at Law in Bradenton.
Rita was quite a jack-of-all-trades and master of all. She was a gifted seamstress, gardener, home decorator, incredible chef and even a tree trimmer. She had a kitchen hair salon where she cut, styled, permed and colored. There were so many fun times in the kitchen salon.
Rita had a heart of gold and a beautiful, cheerful personality. She touched the hearts of anyone she came into contact with. Her laughter and love of life was infectious and anyone who knew her instantly loved her. She was an amazing mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and friend. Rita crossed paths with many people whether it be work, Bunco, Pinochle Club, bowling, band parties and beyond. Her fondest memory as a young girl was selling produce with her brothers on Water Street in Huntingdon. If you knew Rita, you know the story.
Rita was sadly stricken by Alzheimer’s disease in her early 70s. Family had to place her at Trinity Grove in Wilmington, N.C. when JD, Renee and Paige moved to be closer to Nicole. She fought hard against this horrible disease until the end and even in her most difficult stage, she was still able to touch the hearts of the most amazing, patient, loving, God-sent caregivers at Trinity Grove, who loved her until her last breath. Rita will be sadly missed by all of us who loved her.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Rita’s memory can be made to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund, 34 Washington St., Suite 310, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481 or through the link below.