Cover photo for Rita Mildred (VanElls) Thelen's Obituary
Rita Mildred (VanElls) Thelen Profile Photo
1933 Rita 2024

Rita Mildred (VanElls) Thelen

July 5, 1933 — March 9, 2024

St. Johns

       Rita M. Thelen died March 9, 2024, at the age of 90.  She was born in Clinton County, Michigan on July 5, 1933, the daughter of Edgar and Eleanor (Fernholz) VanElls.  She was an awesome seamstress, sharing her amazing sewing talents doing alterations for others.  After raising her eleven children, Rita continued to babysit for countless families for thirteen years.  She was a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church and a St. Vincent de Paul Store volunteer for many years.  Rita enjoyed canning, bowling, golfing and playing cards.  She married Stanley F. Thelen on January 30, 1954 and he preceded her in death January 30, 2004 on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

      Rita is survived by eleven children: Renee (Lee) Lynam of Byron Center, MI, William (Renee) Thelen of St. Johns, MI, Charlie (Natalie) Thelen of Barryton, MI, Patrick Thelen of Mason, MI, Marcia (Keith) Peterson of St. Johns, MI, Marilyn (Andy) Radosa of Midland, MI, Shirley (Bryan) Glowacki of St. Petersburg, FL, Denise (Kyle) Knight of Harbor Springs, MI, James (Cyndi) Thelen, John (Judi) Thelen and Lisa (Jeff) Smith, all of St. Johns, MI.   She also has 30 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, five sisters: Donna Kuripla, Thelma Miller, both of St. Johns, MI, Helen Zezza of New Jersey, Dorothy Witt of DeWitt, MI and Ruth Hufnagel of Lansing, MI, two brothers, James VanElls of Florida and Michael (Peggy) VanElls of St. Johns, MI, many nieces and nephews. In addition to her husband and parents, Rita was preceded in death by one grandson, Matthew Thomas Lynam, twin great-granddaughters, Holly and Heidi Thelen, and three sisters, Arlene Walling, Alice Gallagher and Josephine Rogers and four brothers, Dale Patrick, William, Lawrence Thomas and Richard VanElls and her brothers and sisters-in-law, Gale Redman, Burton Walling, Charles Kuripla, Rosie VanElls, Mary VanElls, Fred Rogers, Dennis Gallagher, Ernest Miller, Charles Zezza and Carl Witt.

      A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 11:00 A.M. Monday, March 18, 2024, at St. Joseph Catholic Church, with Rev. Fr. Michael Williams, Rev. Fr. Douglas Osborn, and Rev. Fr. Eoin Murphy concelebrating.   Burial will take place at Mt. Rest Cemetery, St. Johns, MI.  The family will receive friends from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2024, and 2:00-6:00 Sunday, March 17, 2024, at Smith Family Funeral Homes – Osgood Chapel, St. Johns, MI, with a Vigil Service being prayed at 6:00 p.m.

      Rita’s family would like to thank the caring and dedicated staff of Gunnisonville Meadows Senior Assisted Living for providing a great place for her to live the last three years. 

     Memorials may be made to St. Vincent de Paul, 1009 S. US-27, St. Johns, MI 48879 or St. Joseph Catholic School, 201 E. Cass St., St. Johns, MI 48879.  Online condolences may be made at www.smithfamilyfuneralhomes.com.  The family is being served by Smith Family Funeral Homes – Osgood Chapel, St. Johns, Michigan.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Rita Mildred (VanElls) Thelen, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, March 16, 2024

5:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern time)

Smith Family Funeral Homes St Johns

104 East Cass Street , St. Johns, MI 48879

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Visitation

Sunday, March 17, 2024

2:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Smith Family Funeral Homes St Johns

104 East Cass Street , St. Johns, MI 48879

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Vigil

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Starts at 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

Smith Family Funeral Homes St Johns

104 East Cass Street , St. Johns, MI 48879

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass of Christian Burial

Monday, March 18, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

St. Joseph Catholic Church

109 Linden St, Saint Johns, MI 48879

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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