Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.
Rita Victoria Andrews Hellkamp died peacefully of natural causes on March 27, with family by her side. Preceding in death: husband Larry (b 1934; d 2018); mother Ruth (b 1921; d 2002); father Raeburn (b 1907; d 1986); brother Mark (b 1950; d 1970). And many loving cousins and friends.
Rita was born on May 2, 1947, and raised on the Little Miami River near Cincinnati Ohio, swimming with her younger siblings, Mark and Becky, and their cousin Dale who lived down the road.
After Rita trained to be an X-ray technician, she met her husband Larry, an X-ray manager at a neighboring hospital. They had two amazing daughters, Lori (Lee) and Sara (Steven), then they bought a fishing & campground resort on Kentucky Lake.
Rita moved to Columbus GA soon after her first grandchild was born. The joys of Rita’s life were her six grandchildren: Annie, Maria, Joseph, Jane, Zelie, and Peter. Each week they spent an afternoon at Grandma’s house, making mud pies, playing cards, dancing, having fun.
Dancing was a constant in Rita’s life – she started lessons at age 6 and never stopped. In high school she was a featured dancer in Most Happy Fella!, Annie Get Your Gun, Music Man, My Fair Lady, and others. After moving to Columbus, she loved to choreograph her senior exercise and pool classes, where she developed a loyal following of students, many of them becoming dear friends.
Rita was blessed with lovely neighbors who watched over her and her dog Dancer (who has now found a home with her grandchildren).
She always remained close to her sister Becky (also a Larry), Becky’s children: Alli (Charlie) and Lauren; and her husband’s children from a previous marriage.
Every day, starting about the time e-mail was invented, Rita and her sister sent a daily email to each other. Later, her cousin Dale joined the correspondence. Then Rita helped organize a text group of her female Burch cousins, and after being close in childhood, they renewed a closeness by texting about memories, grandchildren, jokes, and football (especially her beloved Cincinnati Bengals).
A rosary and funeral mass will be held at St. Anne’s of Columbus GA on Monday, April 3, starting at 10am. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity that is special to you.
Georgia Cremation, of Columbus, Georgia is assisting the family.
Liz Popham says
As a cousin-in-law, I knew Rita and felt close to her everytime we had a 4th of July and other events where cousins gather.
She was truly open, warm, and kind towards others, and especially interested in all of the young ones. I loved her smile, her remarkable wit, and her spirited nature which was demonstrated in her laugh, and that sparkle in her eyes.
She was so devoted to her children in words and deeds. I wish I could have spent more time with her.
My thoughts are with all of the family, and I pray that her memory will stand fast through the generations to come. She definitely touched others in a such beautiful way.
Pat Fariello Huber says
Becky & family, my heart goes out to you during this sad time. My thoughts & prayers are with all of you. May your happy memories carry you through this time.
Pat Fariello Huber
Nancy Fitzpatric says
I remember Rita very fondly from our days as classmates at All Saints School, before we moved on to high school. I was invited over for sleepovers several times when Rita lived right on the Little Miami River along with Jane Helder and other classmates. We had such happy times. My prayers are with Rita’s family at this difficult time.
Barbara Herbers says
When I saw the obituary picture of Rita, it took my breath away. I was in the class of 65 at Regina with Rita and havent seen her since we graduated. This is exactly how I remember her. She was so much fun to be around. I have always remembered her interest in dance. I picture her looking like her photo and just dancing and dancing and dancing into her light. Rest in peace my old friend. Special prayers for the family at this sad time.
Ann Newman says
I probably met Rita in 2018 at the YMCA, for Silver Sneakers and water aerobics, and we became friends. Some people even confused me for her, as we are both vertically challenged! We also lived fairly close together so we tried to help each other many times. We did a private water aerobics class at a friend’s pool during Covid because be both needed the exercise. She was with me through several surgeries, helping me become stronger. I know her dream was to get healthy and strong enough to get back to teaching water aerobics classes. Many sweet memories of Rita and hugs, love and prayers for all her family members.
YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus, GA says
The YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus, GA extends its sincerest condolences to Mrs. Rita’s family. We lift her loved ones up in prayer and hope you find peace in knowing Rita was so adored at The Y. We are grateful that Rita chose the YMCA, it was her love of swimming and dancing that made her a good employee, but it was her spirit that made her a great person. To know her, was to love her. She was a favorite amongst our members and an inspiration to her colleagues, she taught aerobic fitness classes, entertained members for special events like anniversaries and birthdays, and was there any time anyone needed a hand to hold or an ear to listen. Not only did Rita teach classes, she volunteered to feed displaced individuals in the community, regularly signed up to give blood donations, and even painted an entire wall for our children to have a fresh new coat of paint in their room at the Y. Occasionally, when she was babysitting her granddaughters she would bring them to the Y, so they could enjoy it as much as she did. We thank Rita’s family for allowing them to share her with us and are with you as we have learned that she has passed away. We celebrate her life and the blessings she brought to us each and every day through The Y. The world and our YMCA are better because of Mrs. Rita.
All of our love,
YMCA of Metropolitan Columbus, GA
Kerin McMahan Hayes says
Prayers to Rita’s family and other friends. This eulogy and photo are priceless. I have happy high school memories especially her joy in dancing !!!
Carmen L Lewis says
Carmen and Ron Lewis,
We met Mrs. Rita when we started going to the YMCA, that was back in 2014, and loved her choreography that she provided for the class. During our time there the Y was in need for an Aqua fit instructor. So Mrs Rita asked Ron if he would like to be an instructor. Of course my dear loving husband said to Mrs Rita ask my wife I think she would love this. Well he was right. We went together to get certified, for the Aqua fit convention in Atlanta, for me it was my first time. For Mrs Rita it was her recertification for the Aqua fit program.
I will never forget Mrs. Rita for all she did for me. I will miss her a great deal, but the good memories will live on for me. I will pray that the family will find peace and that the memories will bring joy to their hearts.
Janice Harden says
Rita was one of my teaching mentors when I was training to be a Silver Sneakers instructor.
Her love and enthusiasm for her classes and most especially the students was infectious. I would not be the teacher today that I am without her patient encouragement and support and for this wonderful example I am truly grateful. I do pray that each family member would find great comfort in knowing that she touched so many lives for good and hers was a life full and well lived!
Suzanne Perla says
Rita was the best mother-in-law to my son that a woman could be. She was a wonderful friend to me—especially with her text messages! Always had a joke to tell me. When we were together with our children we would reminisce about their childhoods. I will miss her so much.
Charlotte Menzies says
I met Rita at Covenant Woods Retirement Facility in Columbus, where she taught water aerobics and other exercise classes. George Menzies and I were often the only students in her class, so we had fun, and it was all because of Rita, who made it fun. She was hilarious! As a result of our experiences, George and I ended up getting married! And we owe it all to Rita. What a wonderful, fun, person she was. I only wish she could have stayed with us longer. She loved life, and wanted desperately to get well. Many people, including myself, will miss her!
Judy Phillips says
Lovely Rita meter maid…you will be missed by so many people. You touched so many lives at the Y. Such a good friend. So caring. So kind. And always so cool.
Love you Rita.