Cover photo for Rita G. (Smits) Janssen's Obituary
Rita G. (Smits) Janssen Profile Photo
1924 Rita 2010

Rita G. (Smits) Janssen

June 18, 1924 — March 25, 2010

Rita G. (Smits) Janssen, 85, De Pere, passed away Thursday, March 25, 2010 at St. Vincent Hospital following a brief illness. She was born June 18, 1924 in De Pere, to the late Henry and Anna (Klueskens) Smits. She married Robert W. Janssen on August 28, 1948 at St. Boniface Catholic Church in De Pere. Rita was an avid runner, participating in many local races. She competed in the Bellin Run right up to last year, 5 days before her 85th birthday. She was registered as the oldest female competitor every year she participated since 1993. Rita also enjoyed dancing with her husband Bob, of 61 years. They danced for many years at the Elks Club and were part of the Crescendo dance club with their friends Phyllis and Earl Heimerl. Rita was a homemaker for many years on the farm; she also worked for the Green Bay Press Gazette, and was employed at St. Norbert Abbey, retiring in 1988. She enjoyed traveling, visiting each of the 50 states, Canada, Austria, England, Germany, and the Netherlands. She also made beautiful fancywork crocheting doilies and sewing quilts for all her children and grandchildren. Survivors include her loving husband, Robert Janssen; seven children: Bob (Kathy) Janssen, Cheyenne, WY; Tom (Pam) Janssen, Eau Claire; Joe (Chris) Janssen, Appleton; Lee (Jean) Janssen, Fond du Lac; Lori (Ben) Wozniak, De Pere; Doug (Janet) Janssen, Stevens Point; Peggy (Dan) Sands, Appleton; thirteen grandchildren: Jon (Kristy) Janssen, Sara (Joel) Mason, Nick, Kinzy, Peter, Ethan, Colin, and Marisa Janssen, Andy and Emily Kollath, and Matthew, Clair, and Kevin Janssen; two great-grandchildren, Kaitlyn and Ryan Janssen; a sister, Grace Crabb; and a sister-in-law, Margaret Smits. Rita is further survived by brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and many nieces and nephews. Rita was preceded in death by her parents; three brothers: Edward (Florence) Smits, Merlin (Gen) Smits, and Richard Smits; a sister, Marie (Vernon) Vander Heyden; and brothers-in-law, Fred Van Grunsven and Fran Crabb. Family and friends may call Sunday, March 28, 2010 from 4p.m. until 8p.m. with a parish prayer service at 7:30p.m. at Cotter Funeral Home, 860 N. Webster Ave., De Pere. Visitation will continue on Monday morning at St. Mary Catholic Community, Pope John the XXIII Circle, off Sportsman Drive, Town of Ledgeview, from 10a.m. until 10:45. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the church, Monday at 11a.m. with the Rev. John H. Harper officiating. Burial will be in Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery. Online condolences may be expressed to Rita’s family at

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, March 29, 2010

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

St. Mary Catholic Community

4805 Sportsman Drive, De Pere, WI 54115

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Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery

, De Pere, WI

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