Rita Ann Stuckey Mariani died peacefully in her sleep Wednesday, January 29, 2020 at The Legacy at Prairie Lakes in Noblesville, Indiana. She was 86 years old.
Rita was born in her parents’ home at 28th & Clifton in Indianapolis on May 6, 1933. She was the fourth of six children born to Fred & Agnes (Brewer) Stuckey. Her brothers Robert (Ellie), Hubert (Carol) and sisters Mary (Richard) and Margaret (Charles) precede her in death. She is survived by her brother Thomas Stuckey (Jan(deceased) & Kathy) of Toronto, Canada and sister Norma Stuckey of Mesa, Arizona.
Born during the Great Depression, Rita knew the value of hard work and the value of a dollar. She often told the story of her Dad hand-digging a basement under their family home. Later in life her “frugalness” was the basis of a legendary family story of returning a half-eaten, overly salted ham to the local butcher. Growing up on the near-northside of Indianapolis, Rita watched as her two older brothers and her brother-in-law Charlie went off to defend our country during World War II. Like many of her generation, she was an unwavering patriot.
She attended Holy Angels elementary school at 28th & Northwest Ave. (now Dr. MLK, Jr. St.), where she excelled at kickball, the only sport then available to girls. Later she attended St. John’s Academy adjacent to Union Station in downtown Indianapolis.
After high school she received a scholarship to attend nursing school in Normal, Illinois. She graduated as the valedictorian of her class and became a registered nurse. She returned to Indianapolis in the mid-1950s and began a nursing career at the Indianapolis VA hospital. During the 1950s she lived with fellow nurses in the Meadows Apartments on East 38th St. The only apartment complex at that time with a swimming pool.
Rita met the love of her life, Peter R. Mariani, on a train ride to a Notre Dame football game in the fall of 1958. They were married on February 16, 1963 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Indianapolis’ east-side.
Nine months after being married, they welcomed son Peter (Stacy), followed soon thereafter by Nancy (Mark Ferrara), Paul (Laurie) and Thomas (Myra). In 1965, Pete and Rita moved to Noblesville, Indiana when Pete became the administrator of Riverview Hospital. Rita took on the full-time job of wife and mother as they raised their family. She was very active in the Noblesville community, volunteering at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, the Riverview Hospital Auxiliary, PEO and as a founding member of the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club Ladies’ Auxiliary. She made many lifetime friends in Noblesville and was always available for bridge, mahjong or a boat ride on Morse Reservoir.
Rita’s four children and their spouses blessed her with twelve grandchildren: Hannah (Taylor) Mathews, SarahGrace Mariani and Julia Mariani; Emily (Luke) Wehner, Allison Ferrara and Maria Ferrara; Gianluca Mariani and Mia Francesca Mariani; Joseph Mariani, Thomas Mariani, Celeste Mariani and Marco Mariani. Nothing gave Rita more joy than being “Nana” to her grandchildren - baking Christmas cookies, attending dance performances, volleyball, basketball and baseball games, cross country meets, CYO kickball games and horse shows. Having made their home on Morse, Rita always welcomed her brood for lake time with a full table of food, and often the greatest peach pie that anyone had ever tasted.
The Mariani family would like to thank the community of caregivers who blessed Rita with their graciousness as she battled Alzheimer’s disease in her final years. Father Dale Ehrman, the amazing Noblesville physician, Thomas Miller, M.D., Margarita Pantoja-Barnes, Todra Hart, and the many wonderful staff members at the Legacy of Prairie Lakes.
A calling will be held at Randall & Roberts funeral home, 1150 Logan Street, Noblesville, Indiana, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 4, 2020. A Mass of Christian Burial will be said at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, 410 Pearl St., Cicero, Indiana, at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville Ladies’ Auxiliary, 1700 Conner St., Noblesville, Indiana (www.bgcni.org
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