GALLAGHER, Rita (nee Hilton)
Our cherished mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by family on Christmas morning 2019. Having celebrated her 99th birthday on November 11, she has now joined her family and friends in heaven.
Predeceased by her beloved husband Austin Scott Gallagher in 1976 she had the strength and determination to continue to raise her six children. Rita is survived by her devoted children Michael (Anna Rea), David (Mary), Gordon (Jenn), Sandra (Peter) Eathorne, Timothy and Rita-Ann (James) Campbell. Cherished Grandma, Nana and Baba to Nicholas (Amanda) Shaun, David (Kristin), Laura (Christopher), Erin (Ryan), Heather, Katelyn, Austin, Abigail, Allison, Carly and Chelsea. Treasured Old Nana to Makayla, (Julian, Anthony) Sophie, Emily and Hope. She will be lovingly remembered by daughter in law Lyn Gallagher and all her Gallagher and Hilton in-laws, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, neighbours and friends.
Rita grew up in Mimico along with her four brothers and one sister. Her parents had moved from England to Mimico where her father Ernest worked on the Grand Trunk Railroad. Mimico was a village then, where life was centred around family, church, school and community. She lived an active outdoor life filled with swimming, skating, skiing, picnics and bicycle trips. She was one of the first students at St. Leo’s school in 1926 and went on to take business courses at Mimico High School where she also played on the basketball team.
In 1939, when Rita was 19 the Second World War broke out, she worked for the bank, hydro and eventually for the Dominion Small Arms munitions factory in payroll and security. She also collected supplies and wrote letters to send to the troops overseas.
She was a determined woman who always saw the greater good in the world and in what she did. She was always ready to help, to organize and to give comfort. When the blizzard of 1944 hit Toronto, halting streetcars and blocking roads, Rita strapped on her skis and skied the 6 km into work, she told her boss it was payday and people were counting on their payroll.
Rita met Austin Gallagher when they were both members of the St. Leo’s Dramatic Club, she as a triple threat and he as a stage carpenter and electrician. They married in 1952 and had 6 children in just less than 10 years. They were also both active in the community through Guiding and Scouting, Parish Council, coaching hockey, bowling league, CWL, the Knights of Columbus and many volunteer committees.
And then, just as their children were into their teens and early twenties, her beloved Ozzie, passed away from a heart attack at age 48, just shy of their 25th wedding anniversary. Her love for her family and her deep abiding faith in god gave her the strength to not only go on, but to enjoy life and appreciate the people around her. She was never bitter; she was gracious and grateful and fierce. Qualities that she instilled in all her children.
For 96 years Rita lived on MacDonald Street in Mimico and enjoyed the company and support of wonderful neighbours and friends. She moved to the Hearthstone Condominiums in 2016 where she lived her final years, overlooking the lake, in style and comfort and enjoying the company of many new friends. The family will be forever grateful for the care, support, friendships and parties that she took such delight in at the Hearthstone by The Bay.
Rita was born on the first Anniversary of the end of the Great War, she passed away on Christmas Day and will be buried on New Year’s Eve. A fitting way to honour her much-loved occasions.
We are all at peace, she lived a wonderful life.
Family and friends will be received at the G.H. Hogle Funeral Home, 63 Mimico Ave,, Etobicoke (416-251-7531) on Saturday, December 28th from 2-4 p.m. and Sunday, December 29th from 2-4 & 7-9 p.m. Funeral Mass on Monday December 30th at 10 a.m. in St. Leo’s Catholic Church (277 Royal York Rd., Etobicoke). Donations in Rita’s memory may be made to ShareLife or the Girl Guides of Canada. www.hogle.ca