Margaret “Rita” Spero, 96, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, passed away peacefully in her sleep on April 24, 2022.
Rita was born on May 7, 1925, and was raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the daughter of Joseph and Bridget Healey. Despite losing her father at a very young age, Rita, her sisters Pinky and Toni and her brother Joe had wonderful childhoods under the watchful eye of Bridget. The Healey sisters were inseparable beauties and the belles of Pawtucket. The Healeys all grew up well, were happily married and raised wonderful families of their own. The Healey clan remained a tightknit family spending many vacations, holidays, and special occasions together throughout their lives.
In her youth, Rita was a lover of sports and an outstanding athlete winning Pawtucket Female Athlete of the year in 1939 as well as other youth prizes for roller skating, ping pong, tap dancing and baseball. She was always proud to have won a childhood award from the Pawtucket Boys Club for the most freckles in Pawtucket. As a young adult, she was graceful on the ice and an avid skier until breaking bones three years in row.
Rita graduated from Pawtucket East High School in 1942, and after a year at Brown University, went to support the war effort by working at Owens Corning Fiberglass in Cumberland, Rhode Island, where she met the love of her life, Caesar “Chuck” Spero. Chuck, a new employee, was lost and asked Rita for help. She ended up helping him for over 70 years until his passing in February, 2020.
Rita was a loving wife and mother, who put her career and education aside to raise three children Colin, Brian, and Denice. After all of the children were sent off to college, Rita resumed her education and graduated with High Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Rhode Island in 1977, majoring in English and Communications. Rita went on to obtain a Masters of Science from Salve Regina University in 1987. Rita worked for many happy years as the Director of Conferences at Roger Williams College, where she founded and directed the Rhode Island Creative Arts Center.
Rita, like her husband Chuck, was very active in the community. Rita was a founding member of the Newport Ski Club and a member of the Portsmouth Garden Club, the Glen Manor House Authority, the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, the Wanumetonomy Golf & Country Club and then later in life the Montaup Country Club where she had two holes in one, the American Association of University Women, the Friends of Ballroom Dancing, the Aquidneck Island Land Trust, and several book clubs. She was also a member and President of the Saint Barnabas Women’s Guild, member of the Saint Vincent DePaul Society, and a Grand Regent of the Catholic Daughters of America.
Most of all, Rita was a loving mother and a lover of life. All who knew Rita knew her passion for her children, fashion, travel, sailing, music, and dancing. Rita was well-known for the beautiful hats she wore each Sunday at Saint Barnabas, most of which were handmade. She was always impeccably dressed, regardless of the occasion. She and Chuck were lucky enough to spend over 30 years after Chuck’s retirement sailing, traveling the world, dancing, and enjoying life with their children and grandchildren frequently attending many a youth sporting event.
Rita will be best remembered for her warmth, generosity, kindness, sense of humor and the love that she bestowed on those around her. It was not unusual for her to purchase a suit for a young college woman going on her first interview or to buy a class ring for a new graduate. No one left her house without hearing the words “is there anything you need or that I can give to you.” During difficult times she reminded us “this too shall pass” and during family gatherings, “my cup runneth over.” Even during her last year residing at John Clarke she daily visited the rooms of the other residents and had a greeting and warm smile for each. As family members, we often hear how her love supported many. The Spero family can say with certainty that she enhanced the lives of all about her immeasurably.
“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa
Rita was predeceased by her brother Joseph Healey and his wife Georgie, her sisters Agnes (Pinky) Healey and her husband Calvin, her sister Antoinette (Toni) Healey and her husband Jim, her son Colin G. Spero, and her loving husband Chuck. She is survived by her son Brian J. Spero (Mikki) of Portsmouth; her daughter Denice M. Spero (Christopher Pargellis) of Newport; her grandchildren Dylan (Kerri), Ryan (Kendra Johnson), Brian Jr., Andrew, Sydney, and Patrick Spero (Risa); and her great-granddaughter, Fayth.
She will be greatly missed by her family and friends.
Funeral services will be held on Friday, April 29, 2022 with a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Barnabas Church, 1697 East Main Road, Portsmouth, Rhode Island 02871. In lieu of flowers, the family would request that memorial donations be made to the Aquidneck Island Land Trust, 790 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, Rhode Island 02842.