Eulogy Marg Rittinger

By Herb LeRoy

Hi. I am Marg's brother and I have been given the privilege to speak today for all the family.

As I look out at everyone here today, it looks more like a coming together of a Swift Current gathering of Marg's large clan rather than a funeral service. So allow me to indulge that thought as I believe this should be a time for all of us to share and relive the memories, the stories, the chuckles and the good times we each had with Marguerite.

I would however, on behalf of all the family, like to begin by thanking everyone for joining us today. We also wish to thank each of you who have taken the time, particularly throughout this past, most difficult year, to ease the pain and the burden by the lending of your support, your assistance and your enriching friendship. Special appreciation must be expressed to the friends who are today acting as pallbearers and ushers. Finally, special praise must be extended to all the medical professionals at both the Allan Blair Cancer Clinic and the 2nd Floor West team at the Swift Current Hospital. This of course, includes all of the wonderful nurses and staff and Drs. Mamud, Salim, Young and Khonge Your kindness and caring have been most helpful and appreciated. We salute you all.

The gravestone will record that Florence Marguerite LeRoy was born in Penticton B.C. on February 13th, 1943 and that she died on December 10th, 2002 in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. What it won't record is Marg's mad dash of life in-between. I want to chronicle some of that for you now.

There is no doubt that the cornerstones of Marguerite's life were those family and friends who surrounded her and who she now leaves behind. She leaves behind, husband John Rittinger, son Kevin Jones, daughter-in-law Tracey, son Morgan, Mother Eloise Ruud, step-father Maurice, her own father Herb LeRoy who died in 1969 when Marg was only 23. She leaves her younger sister Kathleen Shumaker and brother-in-law Ted, Katy's children Andrea and Ryan, stepson Doug Rittinger and stepdaughter-in-law (and friend) Darlene Rittinger, step-daughter Eileen Ray. She leaves mother-in-law Margaret Rittinger, step-brother Rob Rittenger his wife Caroline and their children Bob, Angie and Lisa, step-brother David Ruud and his wife Mary, step-sister Francis Kempf and step-brother-in-law Fred and their son Paul, step-sister Rosemary Moen and her daughters Terry, Trina and Tammy, step-sisters Claire Birch, her husband Max and their son Andrew, step-sister Doreen Saunders and her husband Martin, her precious grandchildren Dakotah, Jordyn, Jenna and Jay, Curtis, Johnathan, Katlin, and Colleen and her many, many, many friends. And of course, she also leaves me, my wife Margaret and our kids Hilary and Matthew.

What a list! Did I leave anyone out? Please hold up a hand or come and see me after the service. What a legacy she leaves behind. Marguerite had three major phases to her life, each of which spanned approximately 20 years. The first was her youth phase. As I mentioned, she was born in Penticton, B.C. on February 13th, 1943 to Florence Eloise and Herbert Nash LeRoy. Marg was, from the beginning, a cute and loving child. In her early years she benefited from the quiet and warm wisdom of her mother, the strength of a steadfast and caring father and the nurturing of the best Gramma in the world (all present Grammas excluded, of course). Her Gramma Burton became a major role model and influence in her life and I know she patterned her own actions with her grandchildren after the lessons she learned from Gram. I know all of you here have seen Marg's caring and nurturing ways in action with everyone around her.

Her strength and resolve, particularly the kind seen during her last year, I believe came from the influence of her mother and the dominant genes of her father. Her love of music came from Dad who used to teach violin, Mom who played beautiful piano and Gramma who was the organist at church, and who, for years, had her own dance band. It was through music that Gramma Burton, as a young widow in the nineteen twenties, fed her own two children. Marg was surrounded by music and quite naturally took up the piano, the accordian and finally the organ.

Marg was pretty normal for a girl brought up in the era of Brylcream, poodle skirts, bobby sox, 56 Fords with sex lights and dingle balls in the windshield and Elvis Presley, the King. I enjoyed the time too. She had girlfriends who were fascinating and I was in love with them all. I was about 11, she was about 15 and I ended up having to be the jive partner to all these beautiful women. I am sure it was more fun for me than it was for her. She smoked, of course, and I was caring enough to give her some special cigarettes I had found. It was only after she got violently ill that I confessed I had found them in a puddle and dried them out before I gave them to her. I loved (still do) icing and I paid Marg to make me a whole bowl of my own. To this day, I can't lick the icing bowl and egg beaters without thinking of Marguerite and how she delighted in taking my money. From the earliest times I can remember, she enjoy a great sense of humour and she loved to laugh.

When we moved to Calgary, Marg went to Henderson's Business College, aced all the exams and graduated with her diploma. She went back to Penticton and it wasn't too long after that she met Vern Jones and they married when Marg was 20 years old. And so ended her youth and she entered her second phase as a wife to Vern and a mother to her two boys, Kevin and Morgan.

They started out in Penticton, did a short stint in Toronto and a short stint in Winnipeg (and who wouldn't keep those stints short) then settled down in Swift Current by 1968. Marg's life took on a new dimension with raising Kevin and Morgan as she quickly became part of the Swift Current community. I am sure many of you knew her well in those days as a member of Kinnettes and an actively involved mother drawn into the hockey world of her son. Her boys were, and remained right up to the end, in the very nucleus of her existence.

I am lead to believe (and I am certain it is true) that the hockey rink in Swift Current is a major social event in itself - then as much as now. It was there she met many great people and created a solid network of close friends that stayed with her 'til the end. If you are to measure your successes in life, what better way than by the measure of the friends you make and the friends you manage to keep. Marg made and kept lots.

We all experience bumps and tough moments in our life's travels, and Marg was no exception. As tough and resolute as she was to make things work, she finally parted ways with Vern in 1982 - after 19 years.

Her third major phase began. Marg began reconstructing her life while remaining a strong mother to the boys and she and married John Rittinger in 1984. She transformed. Although she was great as a caterpillar, she emerged from her cocoon as a lovely butterfly. She blossomed and her natural, internal talents and her beauty shone. Kevin married Tracey and they gave her the most special gifts possible: they gave her Dakotah and then they gave her Jordyn to love and to nurture - and she loved them hard. John gave her Doug, and Darlene, and Jenna and Jay, Eileen and her children, instant and special sisters in Francis and Rosemary, a new brother in Robby and a new, and special mother in Ma Rittinger. Her circle expanded and so did her happiness.

She became deeply involved in the world famous Swift Current Broncos. Marg learned all there is to know about hockey rules, franchise administration, hockey scouts, skate lacing, coaching, who was playing for whom and she could name hundreds of WHL executives and players. She billeted 23 Bronco players and became chief cook to boys who could hoover a fridge clean in 2 minutes or less. She was scullery maid, laundress and mother. Not unlike so many of you here today. Marg was known to often lament, "is there life after laundry?" One player who stayed with her for 3 years had to be coaxed to go home for even just a couple of weeks during the off season. This is not unique to Marg or to Swift Current. What is special though, is that it fulfilled Marguerite's life. She loved to cook gourmet meals for her friends, family and billets. Her cup spilled over. She was happy in all areas.

What was also very special was the new and expanded friendship between Marg and her sister Katy. When Marg and John would visit the Okanagan, Marg and Katy would drive to Vancouver to see Morgan. While having Morgan living in Vancouver was difficult for Marg, the kinship and bond that grew between my sisters was made solid and strong and I know Katy now owns a large piece of Marg that will stay with her forever. Those same summer trips to the Okanagan gave Marg and mom their own mother-daughter quality bonding time. What can possibly be more important in life than family and friends?

As you will know, Marg and John were enticed to move to Calgary in 1995, to pull together the new Calgary Hit Men team. Calgary was not a grand experience for either Marg or for John. It was not long at all until they both faced the truth - they were prairie folk and in particular, their hearts were still in Swift Current - so they moved back - fast! When they came home, Marg found a new job with Ken and John Warkentin in the real estate office - and it was here that her professional work life became so special. She grew, she rounded out her life even further and she developed even greater, deeper and closer friendships. I am told, and was proud to hear, she displayed a tireless drive, a strong work ethic and a special way of dealing with folks. She was once again close to family and could enjoy the special times she had connecting her love of hockey with the joy of Dakotah. Also, in her new house she could look out the living room window and watch the baseball practices and attend all the local games - she was a big fan.

She was at her happiest.

And here we are, at the end of the third phase of Marg's life which held some of her happiest times. The last year was, as you would expect, the hardest of all but her greatest strength, that of determination, prevailed throughout. Marg's last year was tough. We all know that Marguerite's surgery changed not only her life, but also the lives of those around her. And while it was, in many ways, the worst of years, in everything dark and difficult, good things can emerge. What emerged for Marg was a huge will and determination to live and a lust for enjoying the journey of each day she was given. She was always optimistic, always looking for a cure and seldom complained. Not only was she able to draw on the strength of others during that time and was regularly overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness she received. She gave strength to others by always fighting her circumstance with as much vigour and vitality as she could muster. She also sought and found, her own spiritual resolution and centre. She discovered the special key with which to open the final gate and clear life's final hurdle. She re-kindled her connections with immortality and I am certain, has gained entrance to the final and eternal peace we all seek.

There is, in Victoria, a supported living complex for seniors that has a most fascinating approach to helping their guests establish themselves within their community. Each exterior door to the individual apartments displays a shadow box frame, which can be opened with a small key, kept by the occupant. The intent is that each person display, in that shadow box, small items symbolic of their life's passage, values, ideals and beliefs. The key allows them, at anytime, to add or replace items as their lives change or their feelings about things emerge, adapt and grow. The shadow box becomes a small window through which we might peek into their larger lives, both past and present. What a neat idea! Yet, what a challenge! How does one distill one's life journey down to those small and unique items that will adequately narrate their own novel? It is a darn small box and it's a very big life! I began to wonder what Marg might put in her life's shadow box.

Naturally, I can't be sure, but I could guess at a few things.

Her great-grandmother's engagement ring, which she just recently passed to our daughter, would symbolize her strong belief in family and it's continuity and in particular the strong influence of a woman in maintaining and nurturing her family. Her mother's nursing graduation ring, which our father wore for years and which became hers when he died and which has now been passed to my younger sister, would symbolize my Father's love for her, his strength, strong ethic and core values which Marg exhibited in every aspect of her life. Her wedding ring of course, because it would symbolize what John brought to Marg's life and to her personal growth.

I would put in a small sample of sheet music to symbolize her love of music, and the joy it gave her. I would put pictures of her boys and her grandchildren. I would put in a hockey puck and I would put in a rose. The rose symbolizes her passion for the beauty and gifts of nature and her desire to give to others. John tells me because she gave away all the roses she grew he had to go out and buy roses for her to have them in the house. To symbolize her sins, I would put in a cigarette, which she smoked to the last while in the mall with her friends, in complete defiance of God, John and good health. A poker chip would symbolize her fascination and joy with winning money on the slots in the Regina casino.

During the past few days I have met many of Marg's Swift Current friends and I have asked many what they felt about Marg and what might they like me to say about her. The answers were simple, honest and powerful. Repeated many times over were words like, 'perfect,' 'special,' 'angel,' 'friendship,' 'strength,' 'beauty,' 'selflessness,' 'honesty,' 'elegance,' and 'determination.' Such wonderful things to hear, particularly because I know they all truly applied to her.

I can feel Marguerite breathing down my neck and poking me to say hurry up! So, I will end and leave you with this thought.

Florence Marguerite Rittinger lived a good life filled with many gifts. Our loss is God's gain. She will be missed.

Friday, February 07, 2003

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt , I talk directly to your sole. Listen to me. Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart's little intelligence, and listen to me. There is life without love. It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe. It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied. When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roll, fretting around the sharp rocks-when you hear that unmistakable pounding-when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming-then row, row for your life toward it. Mary Oliver, "West Wind 2"

John 12:38 PM

Tuesday, February 04, 2003


Who can say for certain
Maybe you're still here
I feel you all around me
Your memories so clear
Deep in the stillness
I can hear you speak
You're still an inspiration
Can it be (?)
That you are mine
Forever love
And you are watching over me from up above
Fly me up to where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile to know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are
Are you gently sleeping
Here inside my dream
And isn't faith believing
All power can't be seen
As my heart holds you
Just one beat away
I cherish all you gave me everyday
'Cause you are mine
Forever love
Watching me from up above
And I believe
That angels breathe
And that love will live on and never leave
Fly me up
To where you are
Beyond the distant star
I wish upon tonight
To see you smile
If only for awhile
To know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are
I know you're there
A breath away's not far
To where you are
John 8:26 PM
Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
--- Robert Frost
John 4:30 AM
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Talk to her please Mister Sun, speak to her Mister Rainbow
And take her under your branches, Mister Tree!
Whisper to her, Mister Wind, sing to her Mister Robin
And Mrs Moonlight put in a word for me!
Tell her how I feel, it shouldn't end this way
Since you all are her friends, she'll listen to whatever you have to say
Babble to her Mister Brook, kiss her for me Miss Raindrops
And watch to see they all do please Mister Sun!
Sung for Marg and John and Ma by Johnnie Ray in Los Vegas Circa 1989
Music by Ray Getzov lyrics by Sid Frank, 1952
John 12:54 PM

Monday, January 20, 2003

You Must Decide to be Happy.

Yep. Isn't that aggravating?
You can't blame it on anyone else,
and no one else can do a thing for you.
You've just got to decide to be happy,
whether or not your logical mind thinks
it is rational to be happy
and whether or not your moral sense thinks you deserve to be happy.
You absolutely will not be happy for any length of time until you decide to,
and if you decide to,
you can be happy in the face of the most miserable circumstances.
John 10:35 AM

The Definition of You
------ Poem By Jenna Rittinger (age 17 Granddaughter)
You have taught so much to me
This I guarantee.
You knew you went without a choice,
Yet we never heard a negative voice.
Theses are the definitions of you.
These are the lessons,
You may not know you taught.
Thank you for teaching me to be the definition of you.
Love Jenna

John 10:21 AM
Monday, January 13, 2003

The Wind Beneath My Wings

It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine that's your way
You always walked a step behind
So I was the one with all the glory
While you were the one with all the strain
A beautiful face without a name for so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain
Did you ever know that you're my hero?
And everything I would like to be
I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I've got it all here in my heart
I want you to know, I know the truth of course I've known it
I would be nothing without you
Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be
I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings
Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything, everything I wish I could be
Oh and I, I can higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my
John 4:06 PM
Saturday, January 11, 2003


A friend of mine opened his wife's underwear drawer and picked up a silk paper wrapped package:
"This, - he said - isn't any ordinary package."
He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.
"She got this the first time we went to New York, 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on. Was saving it for a special occasion.
Well, I guess this is it. He got near the bed and placed the gift box next to the other clothings he was taking to the funeral house, his wife had just died. He turned to me and said:
"Never save something for a special occasion. Every day in your life is a special occasion".
I still think those words changed my life.
Now I read more and clean less.
I sit on the porch without worrying about anything.
I spend more time with my family, and less at work.
I understood that life should be a source of experience to be lived up to, not survived through. I no longer keep anything. I use crystal glasses every day. I'll wear new clothes to go to the supermarket, if i feel like it.
I don't save my special perfume for special occasions, I use it whenever I want to. The words "Someday..." and "One Day..." are fading away from my dictionary. If it's worth seeing, listening or doing, I want to see, listen or do it now. I don't know what my friend's wife would have done if she knew she wouldn't be there the next morning, this nobody can tell. I think she might have called her relatives and closest friends.
She might call old friends to make peace over past quarrels. I'd like to think she would go out for Chinese, her favourite food. It's these small things that I would regret not doing, if I knew my time had come.
I would regret it, because I would no longer see the friends I would meet, letters... letters that i wanted to write "One of this days".
I would regret and feel sad, because I didn't say to my brothers and sons, not times enough at least, how much I love them.
Now, I try not to delay, postpone or keep anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. And, on each morning, I say to myself that this could be a special day.
Each day, each hour, each minute, is special.

John 8:11 PM

Thursday, January 09, 2003

John: "What is your favorite Elvis Presley selection?"

Marg: Silence 30 seconds then "Return to Sender" then silence... Circa Dec 7th 2002.

John 7:53 PM

John 2:11 PM

Jan 9/03

John 12:58 PM
Tuesday, December 31, 2002


Let life come to you, the joys, the problems, the victories and the setbacks, the magnificent beauty and the frustrating difficulties.
Life come, take it all in. and make the very most of it. Don't fight or force it, don't hide from it or run away, let life come as it will.
Let life come and experience the rich, unique flavor of every moment. Rather than waiting for things to get better or wishing things had not gone the way they did, let life continue to come and live it as it does.
Let life come and learn from it, become your verybest from whatever comes your way. Welcome each new moment and open your eyes to the positive value that it brings. Somtimes that value is obvous, and other times it is hidden, yet always it is there .
Let life come, with all its treasures. and all its shortcomings. Let life come, every bit of it, and be tuly, gloriously alive.

- Ralph Marston

(Suggested by grandson, Jay Rittinger, as advice Marg would want to give us all)

John 8:34 AM
Sunday, December 29, 2002

Dear John:
We started with romance,
That has flourished and grown,
We've continued with love.
As good as is known.
The reason for our love
Is definitely you.
I love what you are,
I love what you do.
You are a man
With your very own style,
Your presence and being
Makes my life worthwhile.
You are my friend
And my lover too,
You are my husband
And I love you.

Dear Marg:
We started with romance,
That has flourished and grown,
We've continued with love.
As good as is known.
The reason for our love
Is definitely you.
I love what you are,
I love what you do.
You are a woman
With your very own style,
Your presence and being
Makes my life worthwhile.
You are my friend
And my lover too,
You are my wife
And I love you.

Circa 1993 Markdale On.
December 25/2002

Dear John, and all my Wonderful Family

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars, reflecting in the snow.
The sight is so spectacular, please wipe away that tear,
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sound of music can't compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.
I know how much you miss me. I see the pain inside your heart,
But I am not so far away. We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me dear ones. You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.
I send you each a special gift from my heavenly home above.
I send you each a memory of my undying love.
After all "Love" is the gift, more precious than pure gold.
It was always more important in the stories Jesus told.
Please love and keep each other, as my Father said to do,
For I can't count the blessings or love He has for you.
So, have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.


Dear Marg
I love you not only for what you are but what I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself but for what you are making of me.
I love you for that part of me which you bring out.
I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart and passing over all the foolish and frivolous and weak things that you cannot help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful and radiant belongings that no one else has looked quite far enough to find.
I love you for ignoring the possibility of the fool and weakling in me, and for laying hold on the possibilities of good in me.
I love you for closing your ears to the discords in me, and for adding to the music in me by worshipful listening.
I love you because you are helping me to make the lumber of my life not a tavern but a temple, and the words of my every day not a reproach but a song.
I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate would have done to make me happy.
You have done all this without a touch, without a word, without a sign.
You have done it just by being yourself. Perhaps that is what being a friend means after all.



Looking back on the memory of
The dance we shared 'neath the stars alone
For a moment all the world was right
How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end … the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance … I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance
Holding you I held everything
For a moment wasn't I a king
But if I had known how the kink would fall
Hey who's to say, you know, I might have chanced it all
And now I'm glad I didn't know
The way it all would end … the way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance … I could have missed the pain
But I'd of had to miss the dance
Yes my life is better left to chance
I could have missed the pain ..but I'd of had to miss the dance
Written by Tony Arata … I think expressly for me
There is not a mountain in sight. All the land here is horizontal. There is wall to wall sky 90% of the time. If your dog runs away you can watch him go for 4 days.

Monday Dec 30

I saw a Marg again this morning. It was before daylight. There was a blanket of white snow on the ground. There no clouds. The sky was a deep dark. blue and Marg showed up so bright right beside the moon ..............."Perhaps they are not stars, but windows in heaven where our loved ones look down upon us." In any event it is comforting.

John 8:50 PM