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Rita Marie Wilper was born December 7, 1951 in Denver, Colorado to Edward Engelhart and Monica (Broden) Engelhart.  Her family lived briefly in California before moving to Devils Lake, North Dakota, where they had deep roots.  
Rita was the second of seven children.  She was closest to her older sister, Karen.  Then came Rick, Bonnie, Tracy, Susan and Tom.  Their dad was always his own boss. He and Monica took the family from Devils Lake, to Cavalier, to Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Rita graduated from Red River High School in Grand Forks in 1969 at the age of 17.  It was then that her dad found a promising opportunity in Twin Falls, Idaho, so the family moved there.  Rita wanted to stay in North Dakota like her sister Karen.  Reluctantly she followed her parents. She attended the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls for one year, and then transferred to Idaho State University, graduating with a BSN (Nursing) degree in 1973.
Rita began her professional career at St. Alphonsus Hospital, where she worked in the emergency department. She would go on to have other jobs in nursing.  The one she loved best was trauma nursing. She was good in a crisis.
Rita met Ron Wilper, the love of her life, at a weekend function for young Catholics at Owyhee Reservoir in March 1976.  Father Bill Wasmuth had Rita stand beside him as a visual aid while he made a point about something or other, because she was the prettiest girl in the room (see photo above).  Ron whispered to his friend John VanPaepghem, "I'm going to marry that girl."  Although they later danced, held hands and made google-eyes at each other on the bus ride home, they were both naïve in matters of the heart.  Thankfully, the Ansotegui sisters, Bonnie, Chris and Gina were mutual friends.  They nurtured the relationship, and then - bingo. Soulmates. Best friends.
Rita and Ron were married September 11, 1976 at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Boise.  Father Wasmuth said the rain that fell in Boise that day was good luck.  It rained 1.76 inches, making it the rainiest day in the history of Boise.
Their first child, Andrew Peter, was born the next year.  Their son Michael Joseph was born two years later, in 1979.
In 1985 Rita's nursing career was on the fast track.  She put it aside to support Ron in realizing his dream of attending law school at the University of Idaho in Moscow.  She supported the family while Ron studied.  It was a selfless act.  It worked out well for the family.
After Ron graduated, the family lived briefly in Caldwell, Idaho, and then moved back to their home in Boise.
Rita held various jobs in the medical field, including positions at Boise Valley OBGYN, Idaho Emergency Physicians, Cigna Insurance, another stint at St. Alphonsus, and finally at St. Luke's Regional Medical Center.
Rita encouraged her sons to study and work hard.  They cooperated fully, and she was immensely proud of their accomplishments.
Rita was diagnosed with cancer in 2012.  She endured surgery, chemotherapy, and remissions followed by relapses. She relied on the strength of her son Andy, who brought his family from Boston back to Boise - an act that she profoundly appreciated.  She watched her two wonderful granddaughters, Magda and Rosa Wilper, blossom into kind and loving young ladies.  She grew to know and love her dear daughter in-law, Dr. Sarah Hollopeter.
Her son Mike maintained a deep relationship with her, visiting frequently from New York and calling her on the telephone every single day for the last four years.  At the end, Rita was able to know Mike's fiancée, Rachel Whitaker, and to see Rachel's engagement ring the night before she passed away.
Rita was preceded in death by her father Eddie, and her sister Tracy (Jesse) Ponce.  She is survived by her mother Monica Engelhart of Twin Falls, husband Ron, their sons Andy and Mike, daughter-in-law Sarah Hollopeter, grandchildren Magda and Rosa, future daughter in-law Rachel Whitaker of Brooklyn, New York, her sisters Karen (Don) Picotte of Mackay, Bonnie (Clay) Stone of San Antonio, Texas, Susan (Chris) of Lawton, Oklahoma, brothers Rick of Hollister, and Tom (Terry) of Camano Island, Washington, as well as numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and dear friends. 
Rita thought deeply about the meaning of life over the last few years.  She found it.  She said, "It's love.  It's just love."
Rita's family is forever grateful to Dr. Dan Zuckerman and the kind and generous staff at Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise.  She gives a wink to her cruise buddies and the 4 o'clock "book" club who brought her and Ron three meals a week for 74 weeks.  
Funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday, October 29 at 12:00 noon at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Boise.  Private interment will follow at St. John's section of Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.  

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