BLOOMINGTON - Rita Francis, born Oct. 18, 1952, wife of 27 years of Desmond Francis, an Episcopal priest at Christ the King Episcopal Church, Normal, and mother of Leah and Aaron, died suddenly and triumphantly on Dec. 4, 2008, at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Calif. She was 56 years old.
Visitation will be between 3 to 4:45 p.m. today at Christ the King Episcopal Church, 1210 S. Fell Ave., Normal. A worship service celebrating Rita's resurrection will follow at 5 p.m. at the same place. The celebrant and preacher is the Rt. Rev. Peter Hess Beckwith, 10th bishop of the Diocese of Springfield. In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made to Christ the King Episcopal Church, Normal.
Arrangements are being handled by Calvert & Metzler Memorial Home, Bloomington.
Rita Gaikwad Francis is the third child of John and Prabhathai Gaikwad of Chikhli, Maharashtra State, India. She was preceded in death by her father, John, and her two older brothers, Prakhash and Pradeep. She is survived by her mother, Prabhathai, and her two younger brothers, Sunil (Alvina and niece, Evangeline), and Vishal (Megha and niece, Mrunali and nephew, Cyril); and her younger sister, Shubha (Basu and nephew, David, and niece, Saniya); and another niece, Priya.
Rita was a registered nurse with specialties in cardio and orthopedics.-;
In her life and living, Rita possessed faith "as a grain of a mustard seed," and lived daily with overflowing grace, grit and gumption. Whatever she touched turned into gold and whomever she touched turned into an instrument of grace and goodness for all people. She lived a large life, filled with incredible and contagious joy and laughter and with a heart, head, hands and legs that worked and served; served and worked sacrificially blessing the people she came in contact with at the hospital, in the marketplace, at church and wherever else she found herself. In pointing people towards Jesus and his unshakeable kingdom, Rita was a pioneer, persistent, persevering and passionate. In life and in death, Rita was fearless, faithful and a fighter.-;
Now, she belongs to Jesus Christ and is reaping her "crown of righteousness," hearing the Master say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of everlasting life."