Mary Josephine Rich, 85, returned to the arms of the Lord at St. Luke's Hospital on
Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, with her youngest daughter by her side. Mary Jo was born Aug. 22, 1935, in Bismarck, North Dakota to Martin and Ellen (Connolly) Schmidt.
At age seven, the Schmidt family moved to St. Paul, Nebraska. Always hardworking, Mary Jo began working at a local café when she was 13 while also helping to raise her family of 10 siblings. It was in Nebraska, where she met the love of her life, the late Wayne Morris Rich, Sr. They married in 1952 and soon after began their family. They moved to Leavenworth in 1960 raising nine children. Soon after, Wayne and Mary Jo met their dear friends Laverne and Joan Pfannenstiel. Mary Jo lost her husband in 1978 and continued to support her family while working at Sacred Heart Elementary and Immaculata High School before taking a position at St. Mary's College working with the Sisters of Charity, where she retired.
Mary Jo was a devout Catholic and longtime member of Sacred Heart parish. She volunteered with the Sacred Heart Alter Society often serving meals for those in need. She loved to sing and dance, play Bingo, and spend time with her family. Her home was always open and often filled with friends and family gathering to visit and celebrate special occasions. She loved to cook and bake for her family, which became the most treasured gifts to receive around the holidays. Her love of God and family was unconditional. She was always happiest when surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The love and support she received from her family were immeasurable. She was a gentle soul with a generous heart. She was kind, compassionate and joyful. The sound of her sweet laughter would brighten any room.
She is survived by two sons, Stephen Rich, Leavenworth, and Michael (Patty) Rich, Boynton Beach, Florida, five daughters, Cynthia (Mike) Fraser, Leavenworth, Christine Perez, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Mary Ellen (Martin) Mooradian, Richmond, Virginia, Elizabeth (Gordon) Sandercox, Lubbock, Texas, and Veronica (Robert) Carroll, Weatherby Lake, Missouri, sisters, Ellen Schmidt, Panama, Iowa and Theresa Everson, Lawrence, Kansas, 26 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. She is also survived by her lifelong best friend, Joan Pfannenstiel, Leavenworth. A beloved aunt to many nieces and nephews and will be carried in their hearts forever.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Wayne, sons, Wayne Rich and Patrick Rich and siblings Arthur, Annette, Margaret Ann, Martin, Richard, David, Joe, George and grandson, Jeffrey Fraser.
Due to the current restrictions of the Pandemic masks and social distancing is required.
A visitation with the rosary said, will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020 at R.L. Leintz funeral home until 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 8 a.m., with Fr. Marianand Mendem, officiating. Burial will follow at Leavenworth National Cemetery. Memorials in lieu of flowers are suggested to Sacred Heart Parish to support the Shepherds Supper.
Belden Larkin Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.