Rita Louise Lucarell passed away peacefully at the age of 92 on May 24, with family at her side, at her home in Saco, Maine. Her death was unrelated to Covid-19. However, the reduced socialization resulting from Covid-19 accelerated the progression of her Alzheimer’s disease.
Rita was born in Youngstown, Ohio on March 4, 1928, the youngest of seven children, to Joseph and Theresa Martino Viano, Italian immigrants. Rita graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1946. She was employed by the Youngstown Towel Supply and Laundry Company before becoming a licensed cosmetologist. Her first beauty shop was on Glenwood Avenue in the Foster Theater neighborhood. Rita met Anthony Lucarell at an Elmwood’s Ballroom dance, fell in love, and they married on February 4, 1956. They had two children, Linda and Daniel. Following the birth of their second child, Rita moved her beauty shop into their home. After the family moved to Boardman in 1971, she worked at Helen Chiarello’s salon where many of her long-term customers, or “friends,” as Rita would say, continued to frequent the salon. Rita loved cutting and perming, especially her daughter’s hair. Family traditions included birthday parties, time spent with their large extended Italian family for Sunday dinners and holidays, church festivals, summer days at Idora Park, evenings with Handel’s Ice Cream (chocolate pecan was her favorite), and family trips to Cedar Point. Rita loved the family pets, Peanuts (dog), Whiskers (cat), and Shaggy (dog).
Rita was very active throughout her life. She was a devout member of St. Luke Church. She was an active member of the Altar Rosary Society and enjoyed volunteering; she loved making Kolachi and pizza for the school children and working at St. Luke’s summer festivals. She was a very sociable person who loved being with friends, especially her dear friend and neighbor Joanne Pasquale. Rita was an avid bingo player. From bingo nights, to Casa Savoia Club, to senior outings, to the senior functions at Boardman Park, Rita enjoyed being on the go and attending group outings, especially the church casino trips which she often organized. She was also a long-time bowler. She bowled for many years (50+) at the Boardman Lanes – it is rumored that she once bowled a perfect game. She only stopped bowling after a shoulder injury at 83 made it impossible to continue.
Rita and Anthony enjoyed traveling across the US to visit their children and grandchildren. Attending births, Baptisms, First Holy Communions, Confirmations, sporting events, and high school and college graduations were always a priority for them. You could often find Rita putting curlers into one of her granddaughter’s hair, whipping up a pumpkin cake, or cooking her grandchildren’s favorite eggplant parmesan. She enjoyed listening to music throughout her life and particularly enjoyed Frank Sinatra, Engelbert Humperdinck, and Del Sinchak.
Rita and Anthony moved to The Inn at Atlantic Heights in Maine in September 2016, after Rita’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease, to be closer to their daughter Linda. Rita was Anthony’s eyes, and he lovingly supported her throughout her Alzheimer’s progression. They were often seen walking together, holding hands. Together they made a great team. During their time in Maine, Rita enjoyed going to exercise classes, wine and cheese, listening to musicians and, of course, playing bingo. She had many friends at The Inn, and always commented how everyone was so “sociable” and the food was very good. She was often referred to as the woman with the red hair, and she maintained its color to her final days.
Rita was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph and Theresa Viano, as well as her brothers Dominic, Jimmy, and Anthony and her sisters Mary, Rose, and Josephine. She is survived by husband Anthony of 64 years, daughter Linda (John) Howard of Cumberland, Maine, and son Daniel (Colleen) Lucarell of Lynn Haven, Florida. She had six grandchildren and two great-grandsons: Joscelyn Lucarell, Jennifer Howard (fiancé Zachary McKee), Justeen Lucarell, Daniel (Kaitlyn) Lucarell, Jessica (Mark) Olsen, Sarah Howard, and Liam and Ayson Lucarell. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends.
The family would like to thank the staff at The Inn at Atlantic Heights for welcoming Rita to her new home in Maine, and for the loving support and care they provided. Also, thank you to Beacon Hospice for their professional and comforting care during the final days of her life. The family would like to also thank the Hope Memorial Chapel staff (Biddeford), Rossi Brothers Funeral Home, and Calvary Cemetery for their compassion and care of our beloved wife and mother.
A Catholic Mass and a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Condolences can be sent to Anthony Lucarell, c/o The Inn at Atlantic Heights, 100 Harbor Drive, Saco, ME 04072.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests charitable contributions in memory of Rita Lucarell be made to Brain Support Network (www.brainsupportnetwork.org, PO Box 7264, Menlo Park, CA 94026), Beacon Hospice (54 Atlantic Place, South Portland, ME 04106), or the Alzheimer’s Association (383 US Route One #2C, Scarborough, ME 04074).
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