Rita Agnes Kellett Prevoznik, matriarch, confidant, teacher, and friend left our physical presence on May 5, 2023. Her gentle kindness, warmth, and moral certitude remain enveloping and guiding all those she knew and touched. Rita was born on February 7, 1931 in Milford, Massachusetts, to the family of Cyril and Theresa Kellett. She was raised on Pleasant Street (a street aptly named as a metaphor for her life) with her five siblings, Mary Lou (dec'd), Joan, Jerry (dec'd), Cyril, and John.
Rita graduated, at the age of 16, from the St. Mary's Parochial School system, and thereafter graduated from the Elms College in 1951. Rita started her career as an elementary school teacher in the Whitensville School District. In 1953, Rita attended the University of Notre Dame for graduate school. This is where she met, on her way to mass and on his birthday, her love and partner, Stephen J. Prevoznik. Rita and Steve married on August 20, 1955 during the immediate aftermath of the great flood of 1955 (a good story if you ever have time to hear it). It was a 47 year marriage firmly committed to family and faith which ended, too soon, upon Steve's passing on November 12, 2002.
Rita commenced her vocation, the raising of 8 children, with the birth of her eldest child, Mary Therese in 1956. By 1959, Stephen (spouse Sherry) and John (spouse Shelly) joined the clan. While raising these three youngsters, Rita continued to work as a school teacher while Steve worked his way through medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. Together they worked raising the family while striving toward and achieving their goal of Steve's medical degree. The faith and dedication was amply rewarded when Steve attained his residency position at the University of Pennsylvania in 1961. Steve remained at Penn until his retirement in 1995 having achieved full professorship in the Department of Anesthesia - an achievement only made possible by the mutual commitment of these spouses.
All the while, the children kept coming with Michael (spouse MaryAnne) in 1961, followed by Peggy, Rita (spouse Steve), and Tom (spouse Pam). Sister Jean (spouse Mark) completed the pack in 1970. What followed for Rita was a 40 year calvacade of baptisms, communions, confirmations, homework, chores (inside & outside), high school graduations, college findings, sendings, graduations, and weddings. Rita guided all her children through these life events creating joy while ensuring that each knew 'the right thing' to do. When her job appeared complete, she was brought back into service to conduct 35 plus years of life lessons for her 21 grandchildren, leaving an imprint on the lives of many future generations. Indeed, Rita was blessed with meeting 8 of her great grandchildren as well as the knowledge that the 9th will soon arrive.
Rita's reach and impact extend far beyond her immediate family. Rita's volunteer work with the U of P Doctors Wives Committee, the Nearly New Shop, the Altar Society, and St. John's Hospice lead her through numerous leadership positions as well as a cornucopia of life long friendships. She loved playing bridge, attending the theater, and traveling, but her greatest love was sitting and visiting with family, friends, and strangers. Her interest in each life story was genuine and parts of those stories often became parables from which her family would learn.
In addition to her beloved, Steve, and those mentioned above, Rita is predeceased by her son-in-law, Mark Davis, and her granddaughter, Allison Mary Davis. These premature deaths affected Rita profoundly. As guardian of her brood, Rita made sure each were remembered at family gatherings so that they too remained an integral part of family life. Those of us who knew Rita will always be touched and bettered by the privilege. Those of us who called her 'Mom' are truly blessed.
Visitation will be held at the Donohue Funeral Home, 3300 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, PA 19073, on May 9, 2023, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be held at St. Bernadette's Church, 1035 Turner Ave., Drexel Hill, PA, on May 10, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. Int. SS. Peter & Paul Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rita K. Prevoznik Endowed Scholarship Fund, Elms College, 291 Springfield Street, Chicopee, MA 01013.