Hodge: Rita Milne a community leader who will be missed

Rita was not only a good friend to me, she was also a tremendous friend to the city of Kelowna.

“Oh well, we are stuck with it so we might as well embrace it,” she said with a chuckle, succinctly summarizing the scenario.

“I’m not so sure. I am getting pretty old and I was never good with anything electronic to begin with. Technology and I are not the best of buddies,” I retorted in my sucky, feel sorry for me voice, half in jest and half in accepted self-defeat.

“Oh nonsense. Believe me, if I can figure this out then anyone can. Just put your mind to it. Suck it up Charlie-boy,” she said, humorously dismissing my self-absorbed rant.

Of course, she was correct in her words of encouragement, delivered in her typical opinionated and sometimes very pointed assessment.

With Rita Milne, three things were pretty much a guarantee: She usually had something to say about any subject, was not afraid of stating her thoughts or views, and usually did so with an inspiring gusto for life.

Rita’s remembered admonishment of my whining several years ago was in regards to my lack of knowledge on how to ‘text message’ on my new cell phone.

Ironically, it was via the modern technology of Facebook that I learned of her departure. Rita would have chuckled at the oddity of that.

Rita Milne was not only a good friend to me,  she was also a tremendous friend to the city of Kelowna.

Rita is already being missed —but thank goodness for the time we had with her in our community and for those who knew her, in our lives.

If you were (or are) involved in anything to do with downtown Kelowna, chances are good you met the ball of energy at least once.

Prior to her ill health, Rita was a non-stop whirling dervish of positive energy and determination.

She was a particular watchdog with actions and individuals at Kelowna City Hall and also within the inner circles of the Downtown Kelowna Association for many years.

When Rita spoke (which was often), the majority listened. Those who didn’t tended to be sorry later. I will miss Rita for many things including her passion for people and for Kelowna, her wit and charm, and her never-quit mantra.

In more ways than she ever knew, Rita was an inspiration and motivation for me.

Her feisty yet fun style garnered her multiple admirers­—even those who often disagreed with her.

She had the rare ability to always manage to snag a few minutes of everyone’s time to enter a dialogue, even with those she may have driven crazy with her relentless pursuit of what she thought was common sense or the right thing to do.

The obituary/testimonial that appeared on Facebook soon after her death summed up her life wisely and appropriately, using humour in the process: “Shares of ‘Chico’s Clothing’ fell sharply on the news that long time preferred customer, Rita Milne, had left for the Eternal World on Wednesday, April 1…The woman with the wardrobe of Audrey Hepburn and the personality and vitality to make it work, died peacefully at home with her family by her side after a brief encounter with an unwelcome disease, ALS.”

Her motto was: “Aspire to inspire before you expire.” And that she did, whether advocating for more parks and green space in the Central Okanagan, speaking for seniors, or working with politicians at all levels to make our society a better place.

A Celebration of Life is set for Saturday, May 16, from 1 to 4 p.m.

In typical Rita fashion, she left clear instructions for the party: “Everyone should come dressed in bright colours and be prepared to dance and have a good time.”

Family members ask all who plan to attend to please send a confirmation e-mail to remembering-ritamilne@gmail.com.

***

Just prior to deadline I was also saddened to learn of the passing of another wonderful soul—Agnes Wedlund.

A quiet, conservative, hard-working woman, Agnes raised five wonderful children in Peachland and Kelowna, and greatly touched the lives of many others.

She lived a long and productive life and will be missed by family and friends. My deepest condolences.

 

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