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Rita Marie McDevitt

December 18, 1923 August 22, 2018
Rita Marie McDevitt
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Obituary for Rita Marie McDevitt

Rita Marie McDevitt, daughter of Irish immigrants, who taught third grade for 10 years before raising six children, became a matriarch of teachers, scholars, scientists, and athletes. She died peacefully Wednesday with children present at Villa Siena, her Catholic faith community in Mountain View.

Rita passed on her faith, passion for learning and generosity of spirit to family members and beyond; she was family photographer and daily scribe, renowned for spiraling notes on the doings and accomplishments of husband John B. McDevitt, children, grandchildren, and friends. She was an avid swimmer, golfer, gardener, and reader. She was a teacher of profound caring her entire life. Rita and John taught piano to one daughter, horseback riding to two daughters, golf to three sons, and swimming to the youngest daughter. Her son Mike recalled that as a little boy, if no siblings were available, Mom would toss a baseball with him in the backyard. She served as a den mother for her sons’ Boy Scout troop; a substitute teacher at Saint Francis High School; and a devoted volunteer at Saint Simon Catholic Parish, where she and John were founding members.

Rita was the daughter of Margaret Ann King from Clifden, Connemara and John Joseph Harrison from Roscommon, Ireland. John Harrison worked as a firefighter and Margaret ran a grocery in San Francisco. Rita was born was born on December 18, 1923 and married John B. McDevitt on July 17, 1954. He was born November 6, 1923 in Pendleton, Oregon. They met at St. Mary’s Church in San Francisco.

Rita taught in San Francisco before moving down the Peninsula with John. Her husband accepted a position in 1950 as an aeronautical engineer at Ames Research Center, where he conducted experiments for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Rita was immensely proud of a US flag from NASA, presented to John for research that contributed to Apollo space flights. The flag returned from a Moon landing and is framed in their home. Rita was the sister of the late Eileen Donohue of San Francisco; brothers Jack, Gerald, Emmet and Tom Harrison; and sister Mary Buckley from Carlsbad, CA. Rita and John raised their six children in Los Altos: Margaret (Peggy), adult education teacher, who married Alex Torres and had David Torres and Joseph and Samuel Torres; Teresa (psychology professor), who married Eugene Sheehan and had two boys, Connor Sheehan and Alex Sheehan; John T. (chemistry/bioengineering professor), who married Anna Grassini; Mike (journalist and professor of political communication), who married Angela Lynn Lawson; Thomas Kevin (computer scientist), who married Berenice Donald; and Mary (journalist, newscaster, lawyer), who married Charlie Gofen and had Eric and Peter Gofen.

Funeral mass will be held at 9:30 am Monday, August 27, at Villa Siena Chapel, 1855 Miramonte Ave. in Mountain View. Interment is scheduled for 11:00 am Tuesday, August 28, at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to Villa Siena Foundation in Mountain View.

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Funeral Mass




9:30 AM 8/27/2018 9:30:00 AM
Villa Siena

1855 Miramonte Avenue
Mountain View, CA 94040

Villa Siena
1855 Miramonte Avenue Mountain View 94040 CA
United States

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