Rita Watchurst passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at Grey Bruce Health Services in Meaford on Saturday, May 29, 2021 with her loving husband by her side. Born in Hull, England on January 14, 1938, she was one of 8 children born to Mary Ann Booth and Charles Carter.
In 1959 at the age of 22 years Rita visited her sister Dolly at an Air Force Base in Germany where she met the love of her life, a very handsome R.C.A.F. Pilot John Watchurst, who was in the kitchen at the home of his friend and fellow R.C.A.F. Pilot Jimmy Dunlop, who just so happened to be married to Rita’s sister Dolly. John was chipping away at an ice block to make drinks when this beautiful woman named Rita walked in and completely captivated his heart.
John and Rita had a whirlwind romance, marrying just six months later. They started their family in Germany, welcoming their first child, a daughter named Toni Anne. A few years later John was redeployed to the Air Force Base in Chatham, New Brunswick where the family grew when their only son Jonathan was born. After a few years, John left military life behind and returned to England now accompanied by his wife Rita and their two young children, Toni and Jonathan.
John was subsequently hired as a Pilot for Air Canada which resulted in the young family once again packing up and heading back across the pond to set up stakes in Brampton, Ontario. Rita was already pregnant carrying their third child only to wake up in her room on the maternity ward to be informed by the woman sharing the room that she had delivered twins which was quite a shock as these were the days before Ultrasounds. John said he accepted that the hospital charged double for the safe delivery of daughters Kelly and Tracey but he refused to pay the Doctor twice his normal fee as he had only seen Rita one time prior to her giving birth so he felt he was being overcharged.
In the spring of 1967 John, Rita and their four children moved to a farm in Alton, Ontario where they acquired two horses, multiple ducks, two pigs and a Jersey Cow named Jenny. The family experienced countless adventures on the farm over the years such as the runaway pig who tried to escape to freedom only to end up surrounded by a gang of cows at the neighbouring farm. The Pig survived the welcoming committee however he required the support of a makeshift prosthetic leg for the remainder of his life. In spite of Rita’s many skills and talents she found herself frustrated in her attempts to milk Jenny the Jersey Cow. Being a loving husband and provider John scoured the area to find a portable milking device to attach to the Jersey Cow which enabled his family to have fresh milk every morning.
Rita started working as Librarian at the Alton Public Library from 1973 to 1988. She became the hub of the community both in Alton and then in Meaford after John & Rita sold the farm and moved to live by the waters edge on Georgian Bay in 1988. Rita worked as an active volunteer in the school, with developmentally delayed children, as a Sunday School Teacher, Choir member, Meals on Wheels volunteer, hospital volunteer and Outreach program for members of the community struggling to afford and/or access healthy nutrition.
Throughout their lives Rita instilled her love of reading in all of her children. She was always quick to share the names of favourite authors and the latest book she had just read.
Rita was also a gifted seamstress, upholstered and Quilter who created absolutely beautiful works of art that she gifted to all members of the family. She had in fact just recently completed work on yet another gorgeous quilt and was awaiting the opportunity to give it to the recipient once Covid gatherings and travel restrictions had been lifted. That quilt was for her granddaughter Tasha-Lee who will cherish it forever.
Rita and John enjoyed travelling and shared many exciting holidays. Together they travelled to Barbados, Italy, France, Portugal, Germany, Poland, Prague, Russia, Scandinavia, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong,Cambodia and Vietnam. They had wonderful adventures pulling their very long trailer through the United States, spending many winters in Florida and adventures down into Mexico. Rita and John were proud Canadians who visited their bi-coastal twins driving and/or flying many times to Victoria, British Columbia on the West coast of Canada all the way over to Causapscal, Quebec on the East coast.
Rita was the embodiment of graciousness and love. She made everyone feel welcome in her home. Rita loved flowers and nurtured beautiful flower gardens that were included in community tours for others to enjoy. She was a talented cook who worked side by side with John in the kitchen to feed the ever growing family and the multitude of friends who were fortunate to visit the Watchurst Inn.
She was the ultimate cheerleader for each of her four children, their partners and all of her 9 grandchildren. She was always interested in each person’s lives, their unique interests, their challenges and their hopes and dreams. Rita was always engaged, always encouraging and always accepting unconditionally. She was a beautiful force of nature the likes of which we have never seen before and will never experience again.
Rita is survived by her best friend and husband of more than 61 years, their children Toni (Canon Rev. Kevin Bothwell), Jonathan (Tami), Kelly (Guylain Berube) and Tracey Watchurst (Dr. Ian Thompson). She will be missed greatly by her grandchildren, Emma Bothwell (Brad Woodworth), Alexander (Natalee), Leslie (Gary Scullion), Tasha-Lee, Louis, Josie, Simon, Ben and Sophie. Rita is also survived by her sister Betty Everitt, brother Dick Carter and sister-in-law Mary Milsom and their families all of England.
As your expression of sympathy and in lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made in Rita’s memory to the Friends of the Meaford Library (cheques only please) or the Meaford Hospital Foundation would be appreciated and may be made through the Ferguson Funeral Home, 48 Boucher St. E., Meaford, ON N4L 1B9 to whom arrangements have been entrusted. www.fergusonfuneralhomes.ca