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Columbia Missourian

Rita Dudley traveled to all 50 states and was a florist

By Kelly Scanlon
September 18, 2013 | 4:01 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Rita Julie Dudley died Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, after a 7-year battle against cancer. She was 55.

She was born Feb. 19, 1958, in Nevada, Iowa, to Raymond and Opal Nelson.

She attended West Marshall High School in State Center, Iowa, and graduated in 1978 from Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, with an associate's degree in elementary education, specializing in developmentally disabled children. At Ellsworth, she met her husband, Daryl, to whom she was married for 35 years.

Mrs. Dudley loved to travel and visited all 50 states, completing the list with a trip to Hawaii in December 2012. She also was an accomplished florist and loved designing with both fresh and artificial flowers. Mrs. Dudley worked at Hy-Vee as a floral manager and later as a health food department manager.

When Mrs. Dudley was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, she learned to knit, spending many hours in the chemo chair knitting baby caps to donate to Boone Hospital Center for newborns.

She is survived by her husband, Daryl; her parents, Raymond and Opal Nelson; two sisters, Lola Newgard and Ruth Halvorsen and her husband, Doug; a brother, Loyd Nelson and his wife, Diane; her in-laws, Diann and Bob Shaner; a brother-in-law, Don Dudley and his wife, Sherri; and many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

Two brothers-in-law, Dan Dudley and Chuck Newgard, died earlier.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Funeral Home, 1217 Business Loop 70 W. Services and a private burial will be held in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

The family requests donations be made to the American Cancer Society, Suite 105, 1900 N. Providence Road, Columbia, MO 65202.

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Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.