Reita Mary O’Neil Basterfield, 91, of Elyria, passed away Saturday, September 29, 2012, at EMH Healthcare in Elyria, after a short illness. She was born December 13, 1920 in Sheffield, to Robert and Bertha (nee Mischler) O’Neil.
She was a graduate of Brookside High School. Reita earned her Master’s Degree in Education and Social Work. Reita had an amazing career. She worked as “Rosie the Riveter” at the tank plant in Cleveland, at the beginning of WW II. It was at that time that she obtained her pilots license, and married her husband, Russell in 1945, while he was home on leave from the U.S. Navy. While living in California, she taught school. Upon her return to Ohio, she worked for Murray Ridge Preschool, conducting home evaluations. She and her husband, Russell also owned and operated the Evans Grill.
She was a member of St. Agnes Catholic Church, in Elyria, Elyria Parks and Recreation Active People Golf League, Brunswick Zone Bowling League, Public Employees Retiree Inc. Member, American League Auxiliary, Audubon Society, Lorain County Metro Parks Volunteer, Elyria Senior Women’s Fellowship, and the Mountain Mommas (A wilderness hiking and camping group) the ladies would tie their food in the trees and would wear bells on their shoes to scare the bears.
Reita was known the “Hat Lady” for her colorful hats and matching outfits. She made jewelry, enjoyed hiking, swimming, country line dancing, reading, soaring on gliders, senior citizen bus trips, archery, shooting guns, photography, birds, butterflies, horseback riding, bowling, golf, boating and fishing. She truly was an amazing person.
She is survived by her daughter, Melanie Little, of Fredericksburg, Texas; grandsons, Mike Vasi, Russell, Garrett, and Robert Little; granddaughters, Savannah Little, Theresa Westover, and Patricia Sinley; nine great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law, Phyllis Boden, of LaGrange and June O’Neil, of Oberlin.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Russell; son, Clay; brother, Elmer; and her parents, Robert and Bertha O’Neil.
A Memorial Mass will be held Monday, October 29, 2012, 11 A.M., at St. Agnes Catholic Church, 611 Lake Ave., Elyria. Private family inurnment will take place at Resthaven Memory Gardens, Avon.
The family suggest contributions be made in her memory to the Lorain County Metro Parks, Elyria Library, or a charity of your choice.
Online condolences may be left for the Basterfield family at www.dovinreberjones.com.