1953 – 2008
Rita Lihaven, precious wife to Norm and loving mother to Kelly Jo, Murray & Julie-Anne now rests peacefully in the arms of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. After courageously and miraculously battling cancer in 2005 she again recently fought bravely against this foe that had invaded her lungs and bones. Embraced by her husband, children, brother and sister, Rita’s final struggle ended on Friday afternoon June 6th as God granted Rita her reward of eternal healing and comfort.
Rita was born on April 30th 1953 in Taber Alberta. She was pre-deceased by her nephew, Brian Hiebert, in 1977; father, Peter Unruh, in 1981; brother-in-law, Lynden, in 1992; sister-in-law Deeny in 2006; and mother, Anne (Wedel) Unruh, in 2007. She is survived by husband Norm and children Kelly Jo, Murray and Julie-Anne; twin brother, Rod, of Vauxhall, Alberta; sisters Marilyn (Peter) Hiebert of Devon, Alberta; Connie (Dave) Danko of Sedgewick, Alberta; Cheryl (Mel) Miller of Calgary, Alberta; Dixie (Rod) Scott of Medicine Hat, Alberta; and sisters-in-law Linda Lihaven and Bonnie (Lihaven) Adams of Calgary, Alberta; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Rita graduated (B.Ed.) from the University of Alberta in 1975. She taught Home Economics in Foremost, Alberta; Calgary, Alberta; and Oakbank, Manitoba. She served a term as President with the Manitoba Home Economics Teachers Association and for many years in Winnipeg she worked alongside Norm supporting his business. While her children were young Rita became an at-home mom in Edmonton – not only to her kids but also to a multitude of neighborhood children in her home daycare.
Rita’s life epitomized service, love and giving to others. In 1990 she began serving as a pastor to children at Beulah Alliance Church in Edmonton. In the summer of 1991 Rita was invited to a new role of service at Sevenoaks Alliance Church in Abbotsford where she served for 13 years as a Pastor to Children and Families. During that time she was instrumental in establishing the Abbotsford Interchurch Baseball League, the Sevenoaks Alliance Clothesline, and “A Place to Call Home” Christmas dinner at Sevenoaks. Rita’s ministry touched and impacted thousands of lives and it is through others that her legacy will live on in our community, country and world.
During her children’s school years she played active roles on the Parent Advisory Committee at Thorncliffe Community School in Edmonton and Ten-Broeck Elementary School in Abbotsford and was a Parent Ambassador at Rick Hansen Secondary School.
Rita worked as the director of Kawkawa Camp & Retreat in Hope from 2004 to 2005 and continued to serve on the Kawkawa Board of Directors. She was also employed as a teacher on call at Pacific Academy in Surrey from 2005 -2008. Rita served for many years on the Board of Governors at ACTS Seminary in Langley, the Board of Governors for Ambrose University College in Calgary and the Christian and Missionary Alliance Pacific District Executive Committee. Rita also had extensive involvement in her community through the work of Love Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Christian Leaders Network and the Abbotsford Food Bank Emergency Shelter Program.
In April 2008 Rita graduated from ACTS Seminaries in Langley with a Master of Arts in Christian Studies.
Over the past months Rita worked diligently in establishing the Kawkawa Camp Society and she had looked forward to the re-birth of this ministry scheduled to open in the summer of 2008. In lieu of flowers the family is asking that donations be made to Kawkawa Camp & Retreat (Rita Lihaven Memorial Fund) c/o 2573 Springhill Street, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 3V8.
Rita was remembered and her life celebrated at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 12th at Sevenoaks Alliance Church (2575 Gladwin Road) in Abbotsford, B.C.
Henderson’s Funeral Home