Nov 13, 1934 – Nov 17, 2017
Rita Fromme was the oldest of nine children raised on a small farm on the Gaspe Peninsula. Her father grew root vegetables cherries and apples. Though the family’s income was meagre, Rita remembered her parents as loving who provided their family with a good start in life. She attended school (grades one to eleven) in a four room building.
Rita was a voracious reader attracted to fictional authors who could, like herself, tell a really good story. One “Rita” story she weaved around her iconic story telling during family gatherings was her telling of the “hippy couple who were into yoga.” In the early 70’s Rita had occasion to rent an apartment in Vancouver. Across the hall were a young twenty something “hippy” couple who liked Rita and invited her for tea.
When Rita arrived the young man was poised in the living room in a well known yoga position. Rita glanced his way for a bit, looked him up and down, and without flinching sat down to tea and crumpets. She politely drank her tea and visited with the young lady. After about fifteen minutes the hostess remarked her boyfriend was deeply committed to his yoga exercise. Rita, still without batting an eye, said “Ah, yes, that’s the crane isn’t it!” The man obviously believed clothes would hinder his free expression of the “crane pose” as he stood naked as a jay bird.
At seventeen, Rita started her nursing career and trained at the Montreal General. Nurses lived in residence with scant opportunity for entertainment. But when they did go out on a date, the Matron of the Residence – “Cuddles” they called her, waited at the entrance until midnight curfew. “Come In” she would yelp at any brave nurse who took too long to say good night.
Rita graduated from nursing school but returned to the Gaspe to nurse her Mother. When she was able to return to Montreal, she bunked with her sister, Della. One Saturday morning, the door bell rang. Rita, in housecoat and curlers thought it was her sister and chastised her, “Good Gracious Della, can’t you remember your key?” When she opened the door she first set eyes on Gerry Fromme, who had come knocking to take Della to a show. One thing lead to another and Rita recounted, “he was so persistent I eventually just accepted the inevitable.” Rita also told us more than once, there was no better place than Montreal in the early fifties for a passionate love affair.
Gerry was in the Air Force stationed not far from Montreal and they courted for a couple of years. Rather than be stationed in Germany they chose to move to Whitehorse, Gerry’s home town. Rita’s rendition of her decision to follow him was “Oh you know, whither thou goest I will go, plus she said she didn’t care one way or another”. They married November 29, 1958.
Their two sons Steven and Michael were born in 61 and 65 and moved from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, back to Whitehorse then to Vancouver to raise their sons. Rita and Gerry returned to Whitehorse in 1984 and eventually moved to their beautiful, quaint home overlooking Marsh Lake in Judas Creek.
Rita loved Judas Creek, and she loved retirement. Gerry worked with Corrections Yukon until he retired, Rita nursed at Whitehorse General, Thompson Center and McCauley before she retired. They were married fifty-six years when Gerry passed suddenly in May 2014. Rita could not manage on her own and the move away from Judas Creek was difficult for her, but typical Rita, pulled up her big girl panties, and created a lovely apartment with her blue and white color scheme and memorabilia accumulated over the years at Greenwood Place.
A truly lovely woman is no exaggeration. The desserts that came from her kitchen are legendary: cream puffs, cakes, pies, cookies, plum pudding will never taste the same without her. Rita’s sense of humor and pragmatic approach to life’s vicissitudes was admired by many; but Rita’s devotion to Gerry and her family defined her.
Rita is survived by her two sons Stephen and Michael, daughter’s in law Joanne and Jeannie; grandchildren Michelle, Erin, Danielle and Clair and great grand children Tyler and Kaylin. Rita left us on November 13th, ready to go, anxious to see Gerry and reap her just rewards.
Join us at 2:00 November 23rd in Christ Church Cathedral to say farewell to a wonderful wife, mother and friend.
There is a reception in Hellaby Hall following the service.