RITA LETENDRE, 90
Rita (Murray) (Conlon) Letendre, a long-time resident of Dracut and Tyngsboro, passed peacefully on Sunday, October 11, surrounded by loving family.
Born in Lowell during the Great Depression, Rita was the eldest of the five children of Long Pond residents Jack and Emma Murray. She was educated in Tyngsboro, including at the Winslow School where classmates voted her Most Scholarly.
After attending Emmanuel College, Rita began work in a hospital laboratory, but suspended her career to deal with a family illness.
Rita was swept off her feet by physical therapist Bill Conlon, son of the Lowell therapist of the same name who, also like his dad, was past commander of American Legion Post 87. They married in 1954. Bill died suddenly in 1969 at age 41 after a heart attack while playing softball, leaving Rita with six children, one of them with special needs. Generous and loving, Rita volunteered to raise two of her grandchildren, Alex and Veronica Conlon. She returned to college years later and graduated from UMass Lowell alongside her youngest child, Eileen, in 1987.
A skilled seamstress and gardener, among many talents, Rita was also fond of dancing, travel and bingo. She was the former president Lowell RARA, the Retarded Adults Recreation Association, and retired as supervisor of special chemistry from the laboratory at former St. John's Hospital, now the Saints Memorial campus of Lowell General Hospital. She was also dedicated to the expansion and relocation of St. Francis Church in Dracut and participated in many church activities.
In 1977, Rita married Wilfred Letendre, past commander of Lowell VFW 662. After many travels and adventures together, Willie passed in 2012.
Rita leaves her four siblings: John Murray and his wife Collette of Tyngsboro and Florida; Mary "June" Swiniarski of Windham, N.H.; Joanne Deschenes of Tyngsboro; and James Murray and his wife Joyce, of Maine. She passed in the presence of her four surviving children, William H. Conlon III, of Dracut and his wife Carolyn; Kathleen Grisley and her husband Ken, of Dracut; Eileen Conlon of Windham, N.H.; and son Kevin Conlon of Berthoud, Colo., whose wife Erin was unable to attend. Also missing were children Patricia, who passed in 2013, and Maureen, who passed in 2014. Rita also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and nine great-grands, nationwide. Two more great-grandchildren are nearing delivery at the present time.
Relatives and friends are invited to Rita's Life Celebration at the MCKENNA-OUELLETTE FUNERAL HOME, 327 Hildreth Street, Lowell on Thursday from 4:00 until 6:00 pm. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday at 10:00 am at St. Francis Church in Dracut. To view a live stream of the Funeral Mass please visit: https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/44842951. Burial in St. Patrick Cemetery in Lowell. Due to Covid-19, face masks and social distancing will be required at all services. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Rita's memory to the Alzheimer's Association of MA, 309 Waverley Oaks Rd, Waltham, MA 02452.