Anita Mary Lewis Rhoads was born on June 16, 1925 to John Lewis and Anita LaBauve Lewis in Houston, Texas. Anita had four brothers and two sisters, John, George, Victor, Rudy, Gloria and Katherine. Anita was the second to youngest child and she adored her two older sisters, and all her childhood stories include Rudy, her beloved younger brother. She shared many stories over the years with her children and grandchildren that centered around the front porch of their Houston home and the beaches of Galveston. Anita grew up as a true southern gal, wearing skirts, the highest of heels and doing her hair and makeup each and every day but she was a tomboy at heart, which eventually came in handy in the Panhandle of Nebraska.
Anita met Edwin Eugene Rhoads, Sr. in 1943 at a USO dance when he was in harbor for several weeks during his time in the US Navy. Edwin and Anita were married just one week before her 18th birthday, on June 9, 1943 by a Judge at the Courthouse. When the war was over, they moved to Nebraska where they were married by a priest in the Catholic Church. Prior to moving to Nebraska, they lived in New Orleans where their first son Edwin Eugene, Jr. was born in 1945. When Eddie was discharged, they moved to Chadron, Nebraska where Ed worked for his uncle at a local mechanic shop for a year and then they moved to the family farm. It was a big change for Anita to live on a farm, she would longingly say how she would love to walk between two rows of buildings that reached to the sky. But, that didn’t stop her from learning to raise chickens, grow a garden, and can fruits and vegetables. Ed and Anita welcomed their second son, Ralph Richard, in January during the Blizzard of 49’. The family knew they needed to get Anita to town to have the baby so several neighbors came to help shovel snow to the top of a bare hill top, so that a team of horses and a bob sled could make its way to a small plane, it took four hours for them to make the mile trek to the top of the hill with Anita in the sled. It was quite an experience for her as she had never ridden behind a team of horses nor in an airplane. It was a difficult breach birth and the doctors said both she and child would have perished had she not gotten to the hospital. In December of 1950, Ed and Anita welcomed their daughter, Anita Kay.
In 1957, Ed and Anita purchased the family farm on Dead Horse Creek from his parents. In 1966, they sold the farm and purchased a home and a service station in Chadron, where they completed raising their family. Anita worked at the Chadron Community Hospital where she made many life-long friends. In 1978, Ed and Anita moved to Crawford, Nebraska where they spent many years gardening and following their grandchildren and great-grandchildren to every football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling and track meet. They drove their 1966 Ford Fairlane many, many miles in all types of weather to watch their grandkids and enjoyed the time cheering all of them on. Anita is fondly remembered by her grandchildren for all the fun they had at Gram’s house. Whether it was spending hours at her kitchen table playing cards, or outside playing badminton or croquet, taking trips to the local library or spending time in the garden, Gram always took time to play.
Anita was an active member of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church during her time in Crawford.
Edwin passed away September 26, 1998 and shortly thereafter, Anita moved to Alliance, Nebraska. She spent several enjoyable years there before moving to an assisted living facility in Rapid City, SD. Anita made many friends during her time at Fairmont Grand Regional Senior Care before being transferred to St. Martin’s Extended Care Unit also in Rapid City. Anita always enjoyed telling stories and making people laugh, she would always give you a soft smile and an “I love you” before you left her room. Whether you knew her as Anita, Needie, Mom, Mother, Grandma Rhoads, GG or simply as Gram, you were loved by her! She prayed the rosary for her family and friends on a daily basis and if you ever asked for extra prayers, you were sure to have a very special Grandma prayer sent up just for you. Anita passed away on February 5, 2020 and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.
Anita was preceded in death by her parents John Lewis and Anita LaBauve Lewis, brothers John Lewis, George Lewis, Victor Lewis, and Rudy Lewis, sisters Gloria Lewis McBrayer and Katherine Lewis, her very special Aunt Gee, husband of 55 years, Edwin, and great-grandson Braxton Rising.
Anita is survived by sons, Edwin Rhoads, Jr. and wife Sherry of Alliance, NE, Ralph Rhoads and wife Karen of Lincoln, NE, daughter Anita Rhoads of Rapid City, SD, nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and 14 great-great grandchildren along with several nieces and nephews.
The funeral mass will be held at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Crawford, NE on Friday, February 7, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. The Rosary will be held prior to the service 9:00 a.m. at St. John’s. The family would like to invite friends and family to join them for lunch at the St. John’s Catholic Hall immediately following the service. Burial will be held at 2:00 p.m. at the Nebraska Veteran’s Cemetery in Alliance, NE.
Memorials can be sent to St. John’s Catholic Church Support Group in Crawford.
Online condolences may be left at www.batesgould.com. Bates-Gould Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.