Feb. 10, 1935-Oct. 23, 2018
Juanita “Nita” Joy Holbrook Rizzo passed away three days before her 61st anniversary to the love of her life, Sam Rizzo, who preceded her earlier this year. She was 83 years old and led a very beautiful, rewarding and fulfilling life. In her own words, “it was gratifying.”
Nita was born Feb. 10, 1935, in Dayton as the fifth child of Aaron Chester Holbrook Sr. and Ellen Elizabeth Nelson. She had four brothers and a sister, A.C. Jr., Evelyn, John David, Bruce and Virgil. Being a part of a large rice farming family, Nita learned hard work, perseverance and family make all things rewarding. Nita completed a bachelor’s degree in education from Southern Methodist University before having Sam Rizzo ask her on a date outside the Liberty pharmacy during a Christmas break from college. During their 60 years of marriage, Sam and Nita had four children; Samuel Cosimo, Daniel Chester, David William and Mary Elizabeth. From the start of Sam and Nita's already large family grew an even larger family. Samuel Cosimo married Jill Lynn Neathery and have three children, Joshua, Sean and Samantha. Dan is married to Kristine Lancaster and have three children, Danielle, Nicholas and Will. David married Lynn Coons and have four children, Olivia, Madalyn, David and Nolan. Elizabeth married Tim Moore and have two children, Elissa and Sam. From these 12 grandchildren, Nita's family continues to grow with already five great-grandchildren, Braden, Ashton, Navie, Atticus and Mia, and for sure more to come.
Nita's hard work and perseverance led to many early successes in her life, like being elected Class President of the Dayton Elementary fourth grade, being awarded the Gridiron Queen of Dayton High School both her junior and senior year, being an FFA Sweetheart, the Junior Class President, the Daughters of the American Republic award recipient, among other things, and that was all prior to even getting to college.
Nita went on to become the president of her sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, at SMU, as well as receiving the Mu Phi Epsilon Music honorary and the Kirkos Service honorary, ultimately being contracted to teach Music for the Dayton School District after graduation.
Already being very accomplished and starting her own family, Nita switched to a life of service, volunteering for enumerable activities and associations. She went on to become a VIP (Volunteer in Public Schools) and uplifted the education of many children. She marched neighborhoods collecting for the March of Dimes, Heart Associations, Cancer Association, Muscular Dystrophy, as well as others. Continuing her efforts towards molding and influencing young people, she taught Faith Formation classes for elementary ages, was the organist and Choir Director for several catholic churches, was the St. Thomas High School Mothers Club President and volunteered for Horseback Riding for the Handicapped.
Nita was not only involved with many children, she also became a political advocate and volunteered for several campaigns to elect solid, upstanding individuals for the Texas Governor, U.S. Congress and was the chair for the central phone bank for the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, ultimately receiving an invitation to the 50th Presidential Inauguration for President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush.
After many years of service, Nita started her own Angus cattle operation leading up to the landmark event of being elected the first woman President of the Texas Angus Association. She was also very involved in the Madisonville Art Council and Mushroom Festival. But her greatest love was music, and so her involvement with the 'Deci-Belles' Barbershop chorus for 15 years was one of her most delightful activities, of course, along with hugging and sharing her vast knowledge with all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her generosity and love will be dearly missed by all, but we know she will always be with us.
The funeral mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Madisonville, with Nita's grandsons and great-grandsons serving as pallbearers. The private family burial will follow at Allphin Cemetery.